Liquor ban relaxed only to save jobs: Siddaramaiah

Though my government is in favour of SC order, it will ruin many families if implemented: CM

Bengaluru: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday defended his government’s decision to denotify sections of national and state highways running through the state in the interest of liquor shops located near them which would otherwise have to close down based on the Supreme Court’s order.

The Supreme Court had a few weeks ago ordered closure of all liquor stores within 500 metres of highways in the interest of safe driving. Rather than act on its order, the government recently denotified sections of a few highways within urban civic body limits to get around it.

Claiming that the decision had been taken in the interest of lakhs of people working in the liquor stores, bars and restaurants, Mr Siddaramaiah, who was responding to Mr M K Pranesh’s question on the state government’s stand on the Supreme Court's order, tried to make light of the issue, cracking jokes at the expense of both the ruling and opposition members during a lively debate of over 40 minutes in the Legislative Council.

While on the one hand the Chief Minister claimed that his government was in favour of the order as addiction in any form was bad for health and ruined families, on the other, he went on to argue that the ban on arrack imposed by the Janata Dal (Secular)-Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state had left lakhs of families jobless.

“Those engaged in arrack trade were not rehabilitated and people who were buying an arrack sachet for Rs 12 are now spending Rs 100 on hard liquor. In fact, consumption of IMFL has gone up post the arrack ban,” he said. Emphasising that he was not advocating drinking, the Chief Minister maintained that he was merely trying to explain the ground realities. “In some villages, liquor is sold in fair price shops, petty shops and provision stores and the government cannot check it. Even total prohibition has not been successful in Gujarat, ” the Chief Minister contended.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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