Rajasthan saves 496 vends, seals 225 others

Rajasthan saves 496 vends, seals 225 others

Rajasthan saves 496 vends, seals 225 others

The state excise department has sealed 225 bars in hotels, restaurants and clubs after the Supreme Court’s order.

The government, however, had declared state highways as urban roads or district roads one week ahead of SCs order and managed to save 496 of its liquor vends.

Fearing that the order could dent the state’s exchequer badly, Rajasthan’s public works department (PWD) recently issued an order dated March 22 for denotification of 190 kilometres of 21 state highways passing through 16 districts and measuring 3,029 kilometres as urban roads or other district roads.

Due to this, excise department could save around 496 liquor shops from being banned. However, Shiv Lahri Sharma, chief engineer with the public works department, told DH that the process had nothing to do with the Supreme Court’s directive.

However, an officer at excise department said, “Most of the liquor vends would continue in the state. In Jaipur alone, the government managed to save 20 vends by the denotification of state highways as urban roads.”

In 2015-16, the state earned Rs 6,700 crore from excise duty and it fixed a target of Rs 7,300 crore for 2016-17. Out of the 7,600 liquor vends in the state, 2,800 were affected by the SC order.

According to figures, excise department has issued a total of 790 bar licences, including bar trains (70); heritage hotels (67); other hotels (506); clubs (22) and restaurants (125). Out of this, around 15% are affected by the order.

Besides revenue loss, it has affected employment also. Rajasthan Hotel and Restaurant Association president Kuldeep Singh told DH, “This decision will affect around 25% of the hotel revenue. The government should appeal in court. Besides revenue loss, thousands will also be unemployed.”

Post sealing of bars across the state, liquor stock of more than 130 hotels and restaurants situated within 500 metres of national and state highways has been seized till Wednesday.