Liquor shops charging more than MRP may lose licence

Measures planned to check illicit booze flow during Assembly polls

The Excise department is cracking down on liquor shops that are cheating people by charging more than the maximum retail price (MRP).

Excise Commissioner C Somashekar told reporters here on Thursday that the department had recently issued a direction to all range inspectors to initiate action against erring liquor shops. “The range inspectors have been empowered to cancel the licence to run the shop if the violation (of selling liquor at exorbitant price) is for the third time,” he added.

The department has slapped 1,013 cases against licence holders on charges of selling liquor at higher prices and 13 licences have been kept under suspension in 2012-13. We have been receiving a large number of complaints in this regard and steps are being taken to ensure that the licence holders comply with the rules,” he said.
People can lodge their complaints at at 24x7 state-level helpline that will become functional in April, he added.

Besides, the department has been putting in place a mechanism to check the flow of illegal liquor during the coming elections to the State Assembly. An excise officer will be deputed at all distilleries to monitor the liquor production and supply. The officer will track the movement of  consignments from the distillery to the destination, the Commissioner said.

He said production of liquor depends on supply of rectified spirit (raw material) by the Karnataka State Beverages Corporation Limited (KSBCL). So, the department will come to know if there is excess production. There are 26 distilleries, 26 IML bottling plants, five breweries, five micro breweries and 16 wineries in the state, he explained.
Officials will hold a meeting with the Excise Commissioners of Goa, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu governments on conducting joint raids to check smuggling of liquor across the State boundary.

Excise Minister M P Renukacharya said the department has conducted 59,484 raids, arrested 6,955 people and seized 322 vehicles and 1.02 lakh litres of illegally-manufactured liquor between April 2012 and February 2013. Almost all illicit-liquor manufacturing units have been closed down. By March-end, the entire State will be declared free of illicit liquor, he added.

Revenue collection

The department is unlikely to meet the revenue target set by the State government for 2012-13 fiscal year. Against the target of Rs 11,200 crore, the department has collected Rs 10,384.15 crore till March 12, 2013.

“We may not be able to reach the target this year. Various factors such as drought and recently concluded ULB polls are responsible for not reaching the target,” he added.

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