KOZHIKODE: While excise commissioner Rishi Raj Singh demanded an increase in staff and weapon strength, minister T.P. Ramakrishnan promised all support from the government, once the department becomes totally free of corruption. The minister’s speech at the 37th state conference of Kerala State Excise Officers’ Association received applause, though less. The minister added that the currency crisis marked a loss of Rs 143 crore in sales and Rs 80 lakh in taxes.
“The demand by the excise officials for more staff strength would be seriously considered by the government. There are also plans to distribute more weapons for action, including defence. If you are ready to end corruption at all the levels, I am also willing to join you. I know this sector as a worker and an employer,” added the minister. He also raised his concern about the dangerous situation, where women and children are increasingly getting addicted to drugs. The minister also directed to start anti-drug clubs in all the educational institutions. The government would consider the newly joined officials to the association, at a meeting to be held in Thiruvananthapuram on January 11.
Mr Singh said the staff shortage was negatively affecting the daily affairs of the force since it had to conduct all kinds of awareness programmes along with the regular cases. The weapons available for the force are also inadequate, he said. Nearly 280 officers are proposed to be added, including more range officers. He also suggested that the archaic acts, especially regarding the NDPS, should be amended. M.K. Raghavan MP said that the government would be able to improve the department only if the officials review the situation in every phase. The minister donated books for the students from IHRD. An 82-year-old retired excise officer P. Velayudhan was honoured at the venue.