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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

MP moves to remove space for drinking next to liquor shops after women complain

‘Ahatas’ are areas next to liquor stores where customers consume alcohol after visiting the store. Several complaints of men misbehaving while under the influence has led to the state government moving to close down these spaces.

bhopal Updated: Nov 13, 2017 19:06 IST
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Liquor stores typically have a space for customers to consume alcohol right outside the store.
Liquor stores typically have a space for customers to consume alcohol right outside the store.(HT File Photo)

The Madhya Pradesh government has said it will remove the areas next to liquor shops that are meant for drinking from the next financial year after mounting complaints, mainly from women, about hooliganism and harassment poured in from across the state.

Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced the decision to close these ahatas during his monthly Dil Se radio address on Sunday evening.

Sources say the central state has 3,617 liquor shops, including 2,551 country made liquor shops and 1,066 Indian-Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) shops, and about 80% have the ahata facility.

These ahatas were opened near liquor shops to stop people from drinking in the open but there have been numerous complaints about hooliganism near them.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled state witnessed several protests across the state by people, including women and children, demanding the closure of liquor shops in their respective localities in April and May.

The protests began after liquor shops started shifting to the residential areas a few months after the Supreme Court imposed a ban on the sale of liquor within 500 metres of national highways.

The state government is averse to a total prohibition in the state as of now. Chouhan has hinted that prohibition will come in a phased manner by creating awareness among people. Last year, he announced the closure of liquor shops within 500 metres of the banks of the Narmada when he was leading a Narmada Seva Yatra.

Congress spokesperson Deepti Singh, who is spearheading a campaign for a total prohibition in the state, told the Hindustan Times that instead of closing these ahatas the government should ban the sale of liquor.

The government didn’t go for total prohibition because it couldn’t resist from earning a good amount of revenue by auctioning liquor shops, Singh added.

The state government earned Rs 7,547 crore as revenue by auctioning liquor shops in 2016-17.

Senior BJP leader and ex-media in charge Dr Hitesh Bajpai said the government’s decision was a welcome one.

Bajpai said it was obvious that the government’s decision to provide the facility of ahata was aimed at checking nuisance in public but since the objective couldn’t be achieved it was better to take such a decision.

First Published: Nov 13, 2017 19:06 IST