Government open to reintroducing sale of arrack: CM

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday said in the Legislative Assembly that his government was open to either reintroducing arrack or issuing licences for opening liquor shops if the House had no objection.

“The government is open to either reintroducing arrack or issuing new licences if the House has no objection. The government had met with strong opposition in the past on issuing new licences. So, we are not giving new licences,” he stated in his reply to complaints by the MLAs that liquor was being sold illegally at kirana shops in rural areas.

He, however, said a strict ‘no’ to introducing cheap liquor in the State. Siddaramaiah, while admitting that liquor was being sold at kirana shops and tea stalls in rural areas, strongly advocated the need for issuing new licences (CL2, CL9), and criticised the ban on arrack.
The then JD(S)-BJP government headed by H D Kumaraswamy had banned arrack in June 2007. Licence to open new liquor shops was last issued in 1992. The successive governments have shied away from issuing new licences fearing public backlash. The State currently has 7,500 liquor shops and bars.

He said he had opposed the arrack ban and had recommended to the then government not to take the decision. “Arrack was available at Rs 10 per sachet. It was banned as women in rural areas used to suffer. The ban was intended to wipe the tears of women. But it has failed to serve its purpose. Women are still shedding tears. Those who were drinking arrack have switched over to costly liquor,” he stated.

It is because more people started drinking costly liquor (Indian Made Foreign Liquor) the business has increased and the State is getting more revenue, he said. Senior Congress MLA K R Ramesh Kumar said the Excise department had become a breeding ground for corruption as liquor shops were not available in proportion to the population. The government should take a bold decision of issuing new licences in the interest of the State.

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