The policy was given a green signal by the state cabinet at a meeting presided over by Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat. The state government has fixed a target of Rs 2,310 crore in the current fiscal for the excise department.
It was also decided that a cess of two per cent would be levied on liquor. The funds collected from this cess would be utilised for road safety and social security, an official informed.
The new BJP government in the hill state had faced a daunting task as soon as it took over, as social organisations, NGOs and women's rights groups had begun demonstrations against the sale of liquor in the state and had called for a blanket ban.
There were protests from the liquor lobby also after the Supreme Court banned the sale of liquor on all National Highways. Following this, all liquor vends were shut down by the state government. As the state is a tourist destination with liquor being seen as essential to boost the sector, the state government ordered moving of all such shops near state highways. This move however, was met with local resistance.
Sandwiched between the two sides, the state government has set a modest revenue target for itself with continued sale of liquor in the new excise policy. It has tried to pacify local protestors, mainly women, by assuring them that the number of liquor shops will be reduced to one-third in the first phase that would be rolled out soon.
Cabinet Minister and state government spokesman Madan Kaushik said the liquor shops in the hilly areas would open between 12 noon to 6 p.m. He added that the new excise policy will be implemented from June 1.
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