Madikeri: Home-made wine with rare flavours and ingredients like rice, betel leaves, pineapple, ginger and others, besides the time-honoured, traditional grapes, is available through private channels, esp., in homestays in Kodagu.
In recent time, some unscrupulous elements took advantage of the heavy demand and supplied spurious wine which affected not only the image of this special product but also the health of some visitors. They reportedly complained to the tourism department officials.
Recently, the department of excise, as requested by the department of tourism, issued a circular banning production and sale of home-made wine without a proper licence. This hit the income of some self-help groups and private individuals, especially women, who were making wine at home.
The affected persons approached the Kodagu zilla panchayat. Earlier this month, the ZP discussed the matter and sent a request to both the departments to review the order. The red tape may have worked and there was no response from either of them.
Earlier this week, the ZP took up this issue again, in the presence of the excise and tourism officials. President Chodumada Shareen Subbaiah asked the excise personnel to withdraw the order. She asked them why they were hitting at the livelihood of the self-help groups. She wanted to know as to why the ban was imposed without any prior notice. If there was any compromise with quality, a lab analysis could have been arranged for and report obtained for suitable action.
Excise official Yashwant explained that the action was taken because the department of tourism had complained about the quality of the wine supplied in Kodagu. He also said that samples of some wine had been sent for lab analysis. Social justice standing committee chairperson Bond Ganapati pointed out that liquor was being sold in grocery stores and sought to know what action the department took about it.
He further said that many liquor shops retailed it at prices much higher than the MRP mentioned on the labels. Instead of taking action against such malpractices, why the department was only targeting the home-made wine, he questioned.
Education and health standing committee chairperson B B Bharatish wanted to know if the department would permit the sale of illicit liquor just if he gave a certificate that it was good for health. ZP vice president Allaranda Beena Bollamma said that in no circumstances should the home products be discouraged.
Kannada Jagruti Samiti member T P Ramesh said that home-made wine was made of special ingredients like fruit, betel leaves and others. It was not proper to clamp restrictions on its production. He suggested that everyone approach the deputy commissioner with a view to allowing a fair chance to manufacturers of home-made wine.
They all may have made a point there. But sources at the excise department said that the excise policy was standard and uniform for the entire state and no exception could be made, which could mean partiality.
At the same time, the way all elected representatives, cutting across the party lines and ideologies, supported the wine-makers suggested of possible vested interests, some opined.