How a Democratic Process Led by a Woman Sarpanch Created Rajasthan’s First Alcohol-Free Village

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Kachabali village in Rajsamand district of Rajasthan, located about 330 km from Jaipur, has become the first in state to vote in support of closing down the only liquor shop in the village. The polling was conducted by the excise department of the state on Tuesday and 94% of the voters said that they want a complete ban on the sale of alcohol in the village.

The poll was the result of a campaign that started on Republic Day this year, led by the women of the village.

Sarpanch Geeta

Sarpanch Geeta

Source: Facebook

The vote was carried out under the Rajasthan Excise Rules, according to which any panchayat can decide to close a liquor shop in the village if 50% of its residents vote for it. 2,049 people out of the 2,886 registered voters in the nine wards of the panchayat participated in the vote. 1,937 votes or 94% of the people who came to vote were in favour of the ban.

The campaign was led by Geeta, the sarpanch, under whose guidance a voting session had been organised on February 29 as well. According to reports, the villagers were not aware of the legal provisions at that time. 49% voters were in favour of the ban, but the voting was declared null because the legal procedures were not followed. This time, the voting was in accordance with the Rajasthan Excise Act, 1975, and continued throughout the day. According to this provision, 51 % of all registered voters should vote for closing the shop and before the poll, at least 20% of the voters of the gram panchayat or municipal ward must write to the district collector seeking referendum on the issue.

“Alcoholism has been quite an issue in this region and women are the ones who suffer its ill-effects the most, so they had been campaigning for the prohibition for quite some time…there was a lot of excitement in the region about the vote…everyone from activists to school children wanted to be a part of the campaign,” the district collector Archana Singh, who received many complaints about liquor consumption when she came to the district about a month ago, told The Indian Express.

With the clear verdict this time, the shop is likely to be closed by April 1. The tehsildar will submit a report of the poll to the collector, who will then forward it to the excise department so that the shop can be sealed.

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