State sends mixed signals for tonight

Dec 31, 2012, 07:48 IST | Ravikiran Deshmukh

While prohibition department appeals to people to stay away from alcohol, excise relaxes hours for bars and wine shops to sell booze on New Year's Eve

A day before New Year’s Eve, the state government seems to be sending out mixed signals to revellers, other than leaving its own units flummoxed.

One of its departments is asking people to pledge abstinence from alcohol as a New Year resolution, even as another has relaxed norms so people can stay up late at bars on December 31 and drink.

Chilling out: Revellers enjoy their drink at a sports bar in the city. Representation pic

While the excise department has relaxed the hours for serving and selling liquor to welcome the New Year, the prohibition department has made a formal appeal to citizens to shun drinking.

“Keep yourself away from booze and welcome the New Year in a different manner,” said Shivajirao Moghe, minister for de-addiction activities. “There have been several accidents that leave a number of people dead and others disabled,” Moghe said.

Moghe’s suggested pledge: As a law abiding and alert citizen I will desist myself from consuming liquor and chewing gutkha. I will engage myself in cultural exchanges with my friends and relatives. And I will not consume liquor from January 1, 2013.

At the same time, the state excise department, headed by Ganesh Naik, has lifted time restrictions on the sale of alcohol through wine shops and in bars and restaurants. As per the new norm, wine shops can sell liquor till 1 am and bars can serve till 5 am, as the New Year’s Eve binges its way into the early hours of January 1.

A similar bid by the excise department for December 24 and 25 was nixed by the state home department, in the backdrop of the situation surrounding the Delhi gang rape case.

Sources in the government say the department is under immense pressure to achieve an annual target of Rs 10,000 crore in excise duty levied on liquor sales.

It might be a tad confusing to them, given that the state government has committed itself to its de-addiction policy. The prohibition department recently sanctioned Rs 33 lakh for anti-liquor propaganda. 

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