Bar owners rush to officials hoping to save their licences

Bar owners rush to officials hoping to save their licences

Many want the distance from highway measured again

Bar owners rush to officials hoping to save their licences

Many owners of the more than 6,000 liquor establishments facing closure made a last-minute rush to their respective deputy commissioner’s (excise) offices across the state in their final attempt to keep the spirits flowing.

Officials at the Excise Department said DCs (Excise) have been working for extended hours for the past few days looking into the claims of owners whose liquor licences have not been renewed in accordance with the Supreme Court order.

“Many seek remeasurement of the distance between their establishments and the highways hoping that they will be at the required distance from the highways,” a deputy commissioner (excise) said.

The court had directed all liquor vends located within 500 metres on either side of the highways in urban areas to be closed from July 1, which also coincides with the new liquor sale licence year in Karnataka.

Sources in the department said they had anticipated losses up to Rs 5,000 crore when they prepared the list of 6,015 licensees near national and state highways. “Many of them (owners) are trying their best to save their businesses. DCs (Excise) in all the six divisions in the state are going through the renewal applications. We expect some of them to get the renewal due to the state highway denotification and hence put the loss at Rs 4,000 crore,” an official said.

Though officials were not able to guess how many watering holes will be saved, they said those situated near national highways have no other option but to shut down or shift to a “safer place”. “We expect that around 1,000 licensees on state highways are saved. This is due to the Cabinet resolution,” an official said.

A senior official said bar owners were coming up with new details and techniques to save their establishments. “We are seeing various claims countering the details we have. These will be checked once again and licences will be renewed only after confirming that the apex court rule is not violated,” he said.

Excise Commissioner Manjunath Naik said, “I have instructed all the officials to enforce the rules in the best way possible. Establishments in Bengaluru have time till 1 am whereas those in other districts have to wind up operations by 11.30 pm.”

Asked about the possible loss in revenue, the commissioner said it was too early to comment. “We will get a definite picture only on Monday,” he said.
DH News Service