Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Wednesday no new liquor shops will come up in the national capital this year.
He said the future of existing shops will be decided by ‘mohalla sabhas’. “If people are upset with liquor shops in their neighbourhood, then these meetings will decide whether to shift them or shut them down,” the CM said.
“Many people are troubled by liquor vends in their localities as people drink publicly, create nuisance. Women feel unsafe to venture out as they feel unsafe in such an environment,” he added.
Attacking the Aam Aadmi Party government over increasing liquor permits in Delhi, the Swaraj Abhiyan, an organisation led by Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, last week demanded alcohol shops in residential areas be shut down.
The Swaraj Abhiyan said Kejriwal had promised to reduce alcohol consumption and distribution in the city. It said 58 liquor vends came up in Delhi since last February.
On Wednesday, Kejriwal warned that strict action will be taken against shop owners and managers of existing liquor shops over reports of unruly behaviour or illegal activities.
Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said the process to decide on shutting a shop will be initiated once 10% voters of a ‘mohalla sabha’ submit a written complaint. “If two-third members present at a meeting decide to shut down a shop then it will have to be shifted. But even then, the members of the area where it is to be shifted will have to approve any such move,” Sisodia said.
Kejriwal’s announcement comes after Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa recently assured alcohol prohibition in the state in a phased manner. On her first day after re-election in May, the Tamil Nadu CM ordered 500 government-run liquor shops to shut down.
Bihar also recently completely banned the sale of alcohol, including liquor at bars and hotels.
Prohibition was one of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s main campaign promises to women voters in state elections last year.
Three other states have complete alcohol bans, Gujarat, Nagaland and Manipur. However, bootleggers do brisk business in all states with prohibition laws.
With PTI inputs