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A liqour joint on every corner

Eyeing for high revenue, the Haryana government has quickened the process of issuing liquor licences to small vendors and beer bars in Gurgaon.

india Updated: Mar 27, 2011 23:10 IST
Sanjeev K Ahuja

Eyeing for high revenue, the Haryana government has quickened the process of issuing liquor licences to small vendors and beer bars in Gurgaon.

This, despite complaints from residents about law and order problems.

This year, the state earned Rs 286 crore by allotting 259 licences to liquor outlets in Gurgaon, a 30% rise since last year.

A vendor at Galleria Market in DLF City got the licence for Rs 5.54 crore, the highest a liquor shop has ever paid in Haryana.

With demand for alcoholic drinks increasing in Gurgaon - the hub of IT companies and multinationals - the state government has been offering various schemes to woo entrepreneurs to set up bars, pubs and discotheques.

The government has allowed entrepreneurs to set up of 'micro beer breweries', where they can produce and sell "fresh beer" to customers.

By allowing departmental stores to sell wine and beer, and relaxing norms for setting up beer bars, the government wants to exploit excise policy to the hilt to rake in money.

Residents unhappy
Residents complain that certain shops in their neighbourhood are selling liquor, which encourages people to drink in the open. They are known to indulge in unlawful activities.

"Liquor shops have mushroomed everywhere, especially in residential areas. The government is encouraging it. There is a liquor store at our neighbourhood market where you can see people drinking in the open. It sends a bad message to our children and also creates law and order problems," said Aman Singh, a resident of DLF City.

Singh and her neighbours have decided to stage a protest to get the liquor vendors removed from the area.

Haryana excise commissioner Anurag Rastogi, however, said the "global lifestyle" of Gurgaon demands easy availability of liquor.

"We have been promoting liquor joints serving low-alcoholic drinks. We have not increased the number of vends," he said.

"Instead, the small joints and beer bars are encouraging people to buy only low-alcoholic drinks," he added.

In 2008, the state government had allowed setting up of micro beer breweries and beer gardens for a licence fee of Rs 2.5 lakh, in addition to a regular fee of Rs 5 lakh.

The state also allowed sale of imported wines at some stores that paid a licence fee of Rs 1 lakh.

Early this year, the government has introduced a new category of beer bars that can serve low- alcoholic beverages by paying an annual licence fee of Rs 4 lakh.

According to excise and taxation officials, the government has fixed a very high target from liquor sale.

"In 2011-12, the excise collection may be Rs 2,500 crore. It was Rs 1,400 crore last fiscal," said an official.