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Renewed call to make fruit wine making legal in Meghalaya

Wine festival organisers rue steep hike in fees for temporary bar license for participants

SHILLONG: It’s been fifteen long years since the Shillong Wine festival was first organised in Shillong by the Forever Young Club to promote local wine but surprisingly Meghalaya Government till date has not legalised fruit wine making which could have provided a lot of employment opportunities to the local wine makers.

Speaking to media persons here on the sidelines of the  15th one-day Shillong Wine Festival which was organised on Saturday here,  president of Forever Young Club, Michael Syiem said that they recently met the state Excise Minister and urged him to legalise wine making to give a boost to tourism and even Horticulture department.

“It’s just a matter of Cabinet decision,” he said while lamenting that the government departments are encouraging local wine in different festivals such as Cherry Blossom festival and even a fruit wine making festival is scheduled to be organised by the Horticulture department   in Nongstoin but surprisingly, the state government has not legalised it for reasons best known to it.

Syiem pointed out that States like Mizoram and Manipur despite being dry states, were going ahead with local wine making whereas Meghalaya was yet to take any call on the matter

According to Syiem, different fruits are grown in the region throughout the year and these could have been utilised for wine making which can promote cottage industry besides providing employment.

“When tourists come here, they always want to taste local wine but they don’t get the local wine in shops as its not legalised,” he said while citing an example of Sikkim where local wines are sold in shops and its easily available for tourists.

Syiem also rued that earlier participating organization were asked to pay only Rs 1500 only for obtaining temporary bar license for the wine festival, but this year the state government has increased the fees to Rs 15,000.

Wine makers from different parts of the state and one from Guwahati also setup their stalls at the festival which was attended by many wine makers.

 

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