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Maha mulls allowing desi liquor shops to sell foreign liquor

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Press Trust of India Mumbai
The Maharashtra government is mulling to draft a policy,wherein 'desi' (country-made) liquor shops will be given an option to convert their licence for enabling them to sell foreign liquor to customers.
State Excise Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule said once the desi liquor shops are converted into foreign liquor shops, they will have to sell packed liquor bottles to customers for consumption at home.
This will not only bring down the accidents caused by drunk driving, but also reduce law and order problems, he claimed.
"People buying desi liquor generally consume it near the shops, causing nuisance to other people. Besides that, there are safety issues involved as such people have to drive back to their places after consuming liquor," Bawankule said while interacting with select media persons here.
"But if the desi liquor shop owner goes for a change of licence, it will be mandatory for such establishments to sell packed bottles. Thus, those intending to consume liquor will have to leave the place from where they buy it. This will avoid public nuisance as well as accidents," he added.
The minister saidthere are 3,903 desi liquor shops called as 'CL3' and 1,685 foreign liquor shops known as 'FL2' shops.
"The open sale of liquor in CL3 shops results in law and order problems at several places. If CL3 shops are converted into the FL2 shops, the owner will be able to sell both desi and foreign liquor brands at his shop," the minister said.
This will help people buy packed bottles at these shops and drink liquor at home, he said, adding that it will not only down the accidents caused by drunk driving, but also expected to reduce law and order problems.
"The policy will encourage owners of desi liquor shops to change their licence to foreign wine shops by paying a certain transfer fee. By changing the licence, the owner will be able to sell both desi and foreign liquors at his shop," he said.
However, the scheme is completely voluntary as it will not be compulsory on the owner to change the licence, he added.
"But once the licence is changed, he cannot sell desi liquor in the open. If he is found doing so, his licence will be revoked," he said.
The fee for changing the licence is yet to be decided. It will be levied according to the status of the place and will have four slabs Gram Panchayat, Nagar Palika, Mahanagarpalika and Metro cities, said Bawankule.
Under the new policy, the state government also plans to bring in changes in the licence transfer rules.
The policy will not allow partnership or transfer of license with the other party.
The licence can only be transferred to legal heir of the licence holder and if not, will have to be returned to the government.
The state government had recently relaxed the guidelines for liquor shops, paving the way for reopening of nearly 2,800 such establishments in the state.
Following the Supreme Court ruling, the state government had on April 1, 2017 banned the sale of liquor within a 500-metre radius of state and national highways.
However, according to new norms, the liquor sale licences can be issued in villages having population of 3,000 instead of earlier norm of 5,000.

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First Published: Feb 27 2019 | 9:30 PM IST

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