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'Shorten dry days ahead of polls'

Bar owners request excise dept, collector, to keep dry days between 5 pm on Feb 15 to 5 pm on Feb 17, instead of all three days

Citing sagging business due to a rise in various taxes and relentless crackdowns from police, bar owners have demanded the curtailing of dry day hours for the civic elections to be held on February 16.



They have written to the collector and the state excise department to exempt them from restricted bar timings the day before and after the polls.

In its application to the department, the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR) has sought relaxation on bar timings, demanding that the dry days be declared from 5 pm on February 15 to 5 pm on February 17. 
 
The bar owners fear that closure of legally run permit rooms for three whole days will lead to bootlegging and sale of spurious liquor by illegal joints.

They also said that it would lead to heavy movement of liquor products from neighbouring states, where prices are 40 to 50 per cent less, resulting in a further loss to the government exchequer.

"We have written to the department to give us some respite. Also, closure of wine shops for three days will increase bootlegging in the state. Already our industry has faced a huge setback in the last year. The sales matter even in these three days," said Sudhakar Shetty, president, AHAR.

MiD DAY had reported earlier how Chief Secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad had raised concerns regarding liquor sale and had asked the police not to harass legitimately running bars.

"Our request for relaxation is because the votes will be counted by electronic machines and results will be out by 4 pm at the latest. By 5 pm, we can start operating. We are awaiting a reply from the department," Shetty added.

N Mudiraj, superintendent (excise, suburbs), said, "The decision on amending the timings for the dry days can be taken by the court or by the collector. As of now, dry day starts from the morning on February 15 to the night of February 17."

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