In-line with its poll promise to discourage alcohol consumption in Punjab, the Amarinder Singh government today decided to close over 450 liquor shops in the state. The government under its new excise policy for 2017-18 also announced to slash the liquor quota and ban sale of alcohol within 500 meters of national and state highways. There are 6,384 liquor vends in the state, it will be reduced to 5,900, a spokesman with the Chief Minister's Office said. The decision was taken in the maiden cabinet meeting of the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh-led Punjab government here, he said. In its poll manifesto, the Congress had announced, that "to discourage liquor consumption in Punjab and substantially reduce its sale in five years, it will close five per cent of liquor vends each year." The new state government also announced to reduce liquor quota by up to 20 per cent, the spokesman said. The quota of country liquor has been reduced by 14 per cent from 10.10 crore proof litres to 8.70 crore proof litres and the quota of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) has been reduced by 20 per cent from 4.73 crore proof litres to 3.80 crore proof litres, he said. A State Excise and Taxation Department official said the liquor quota in Punjab had reached its saturation point and it was leading to bootlegging incidents. The spokesman said in compliance with the Supreme Court order, no liquor vend would be allowed to operate within 500 metres of national and state highways. The government has also abolished the "controversial" wholesale licence for the L-1A category.
This will allow L-1 licensees to directly purchase their quota from the distilleries, bottling plants and manufacturing companies, he said. The L-1 licence would be granted to retail L-2 licensees in the districts concerned, the spokesman said. The previous SAD-BJP government had came under sharp criticism last year after the wholesale licence for L-1A category was introduced. Several people engaged in the liquor trade alleged it was benefiting certain groups in this category. It was also alleged that wholesale licence L-1A category was introduced to monopolise the liquor trade in the state.
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