Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Jawali becomes Maharashtra's first Liquor-Free Taluka

An anti-liquor resolution was passed by 58 women in the gram sabha in Nandgane village, in Maharashtra, making Jawali the first liquor-free taluka in the state.

At a special gram sabha (people’s assembly) convened in Nandgane village, in Maharashtra’s Satara district, a resolution was passed on July 9, 2008, banning the sale of alcohol in the village. The resolution was passed by the 58 women who attended the gram sabha and voted unanimously for the ban. The gram sabha was conducted as per the law, according to the block development officer of Jawali taluka.

Nandgane became the fifth village in Jawali taluka to ban the sale of alcohol. Jawali thus becomes the first taluka in the state to completely ban alcohol. Thirteen licensed liquor shops in the villages will be affected by the ban.

Nandgane has a population of 350 people, of whom 115 are women.

The anti-liquor movement in the taluka has been spearheaded by women who face the major brunt of the liquor menace. The movement began in Aanewadi village which was the first to impose a ban on liquor in August 2007; it then spread to Medha, Kudal, Humgaon and Nandgane.

The women have had to face some opposition. Sunita Dalvi, sarpanch of Nandgane, says a former sarpanch prevented some of the women from attending the gram sabha. And the district convenor of the anti-liquor movement, Vilas Baba Jawal, was barred from entering the village.
Still, the campaign continues to move forward with Mahabaleshwar taluka next in line. The village of Tapola is due to call a special gram sabha to debate the anti-liquor issue.

Under a Maharashtra government order issued in June 2003, if no less than 25% of women voters in a village, municipal corporation ward or municipality make a representation demanding the closure of liquor shops, the district collector has to arrange a secret poll among women voters in the respective area. If more than 50% of women voters support the closure proposal, the collector must pass an order.

The anti-liquor movement exists in other parts of the state and country too. In Orissa, the movement that began among the women of Bardhanpur village, in Balasore district, has spread to at least 12 other villages. In Uttaranchal, villagers in 100 villages organised raids to smash illicit breweries and even slapped an unofficial fine of Rs 500 on anyone found drinking liquor. In Andhra Pradesh there has been a strong anti-liquor movement, led mostly by women, since the 1990s.

Source: The Indian Express, July 10, 2008

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