People of Gujarat origin who travel to the officially ‘dry’ state of have demanded that mandatory liquor permits for use during their stay in the state be made available online so that they could be acquired before travel rather than queuing for them at airports in the state.
According to an announcement in Ahmedabad on Sunday, the permits would now be available from tourism counters at Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Bhuj airports to foreign as well as domestic travellers to the state, as part of efforts to boost tourism in the state.
Until two years ago, the permits were issued by the Indian high commission, but the facility was withdrawn. Since then, organisations representing the 800,000-strong Gujarati community here have demanded its reinstatement or launching an online service.
Mahendrasinh C Jadeja, secretary-general of the National Congress of Gujarati Organisations (NCGO), told HT that it was ‘a step in the right direction’, but Gujaratis preferred acquiring the permits online before travelling to the state.
“If everything is now online, why not liquor permits? All necessary details – OCI number, passport details, etc. – could be entered online for the permit. That will ensure that we don’t have to queue at airports when we arrive in Gujarat after long flights”, he said.
Jadeja has raised the issue with the high commission, and also during the Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in October, which was attended by the External affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj.
Jadeja said: "The high commission has stopped offering this service and one is required to join a big, long queue on arrival at an Indian airport after going through other formalities. This makes life difficult for people travelling to Gujarat who want to carry personal alcoholic drinks."