Poll curbs may see liquor outlets go dry

Highlights: 
Bars & restaurants, pubs may go dry this month-end
Liquor outlets will be shut from 6 pm on May 10 to 6 pm on May 12 and on May 15 during voting and counting
There are 10,165 licensed liquor outlets in the entire state
Excise department giving liquor supply based on the order placed last year April.

Bars and pubs may go dry this month-end as the excise department has restricted the supply of liquor ahead of the May 12 Assembly elections.

Owners of bars and pubs claim that the excise department is not allowing them to do business. Govardhan D, a bar owner in Yelahanka said that till March-end, excise officials were forcing them buy hard liquor to help the department reach its revenue target of Rs 18,050 crore. “Now, when there is a demand, officials have restricted supply,” he rued.

“Officials are only supplying liquor based on our intake last April. Last April, I had not placed any orders since I had procured 1,000 litres in March-end which lasted during April too. Since I placed no orders last April, I have been denied supply this April,” he added.

Govindraj Hegde, president of the Karnataka Federation of Wine Merchants Association said the excise officials are targeting the liquor business by stopping production till the completion of elections. Bars and restaurants hoped the election season would help them recover the losses they suffered following last year’s highway ban. 

Sunil P, an MRP outlet owner in Banaswadi said though there is a huge demand for beer due to the summer, officials, who are eyeing higher excise revenues, are allotting them just 20 cases of beer against 100 litres the liquor, since beer attracts a low excise duty. “Can we force people to drink hard liquor instead of beer?” he asked.

Excise Commissioner Munish Moudgil said, “We don’t want excess liquor sales during the elections. It is a general restriction to prevent misuse. Outlets will get the quantity they procured last year. Anyone violating norms will face permanent shutdown.”

He added that all liquor outlets will be shut 48 hours before the election and on counting day.

Deputy Commissioner of Excise (Bengaluru East) Shivana Gowda said the decision was taken following directions from the Election Commission. The step was taken to prevent hoarding, he said.

 

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