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Year after closure, 22 liquor vends in Chandigarh to open on April 1

Paving the way: Excise Policy 2018-19 will allow opening of vends that were shut after Supreme Court’s order last April; 13 vends are on Madhya Marg.

punjab Updated: Feb 28, 2018 11:10 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
liquor vends,Chandigarh liquor vends,Excise Policy
With opening of 22 vends, their number in city will rise to 99.(HT File)

A year after they faced closure, the UT excise and taxation department will be opening 22 liquor vends on state and national highways from April 1. The Supreme Court had ordered all liquor vends located within 500 metres of state and national highways be closed by April 1, 2017.

But now the vends will be opened under the new Excise Policy for 2018-19, which will be implemented from April 1. Presently, out of 77 vends, 70 liquor vends are in the city and 7 vends failed to be auctioned.

With opening of 22 vends, number in the city will rise to 99. Out of 22, 13 vends are on Madhya Marg.

RK Chaudhary, assistant excise and taxation commissioner, said, “The vends will be opened under the new excise police and will be allotted through tenders.

Satya Pal, president, Wine Merchants Association, said, “We are happy that they are opening the vends, but I suggest that locations should be finalised after consultation with stakeholders. We also want that vends should be allotted through lottery system, instead of auction.”

Amongst all the five UTs without legislatures, Chandigarh generated highest revenue around Rs 5,500 crore this financial year.

UT to increase fee

With the aim to generate more revenue, the department is all set to increase the liquor licence fee of bars by 10% to 15%. At present, the fee ranges from Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh per year. Even, there are plans to increase the reserve price of liquor vends to be put up for auction by upto 15% in the excise policy for the next financial year.

Over the years, UT has been consistently increasing liquor rates. Despite the rise, the liquor rates in city are less than those in Punjab and Haryana.

Even last year, the department had increased the minimum reserve price of liquor vends from Rs 177 crore to Rs 202 crore.

Amongst all the five UTs — Chandigarh, Andaman and Nicobar Island, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Lakshadweep — without legislatures, Chandigarh generated highest revenue around Rs 5,500 crore this financial year.

Why vends were closed?

The ban was imposed on April 1, 2017, after the apex court banned sale of liquor within 500 meter from national and state highways.

The order left around 2,000 people jobless who were working across the bars in city. Most of these bars were located in Sectors 26 and 35 and included big names like JW Marriot in Sector 35 and Hotel Taj in Sector 17.

But on July 11 last year, Supreme Court clarified that its December 2016 judgment was aimed at dealing with sale of liquor in the proximity of highways that provide connectivity between cities, towns and villages.

First Published: Feb 28, 2018 11:10 IST