Bars do brisk business

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By OUR BUREAU in Bokaro
  • Published 3.07.08

Ranchi/Bokaro, July 2: In the wake of the indefinite closure of 800 liquor shops across 24 districts in the state, tipplers are rushing to bars to enjoy drinks spending extra bucks.

The situation is unlikely to change till a cabinet decision is taken on July 4, the day when the deputy commissioners of four districts — Ranchi, Bokaro, Simdega and Dhanbad — are expected to float tender for the third time.

In the wake of closed retail liquor shops, the 24 bars situated in the state capital have started doing brisk business. There are about 24 bar licensed bars in the Ranchi city alone.

Chandra Mohan Kapoor, the owner of Hongul bar and restaurant, said they were witnessing an increase in number of people thronging the bar. But he expressed apprehensions of illegal sale of liquor.

Several hotels, dhabas and roadside kiosks also sale illegal liquor. There is also threat of spurious liquor being pushed in the market.

Kamlesh Kumar Singh, the state excise minister, said: “The cabinet earlier decided that cent per cent settlement of liquor shops of all three categories — Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), spice and country liquor — should take place in all the districts at a time. But despite inviting open tender there were no takers in the four districts.”

Singh said the overall welfare of the state in terms of financial gains hinges on liquor trade. Therefore, succumbing to pressure of any party would set bad precedent. Fifty per cent of the monthly revenue, which is about Rs 8 crore, comes from auction of retail liquor trade in Ranchi, Dhanbad and Bokaro.

As far as preparation of the proposal to be placed before the cabinet goes, the excise department is weighing two options.

First, they could remove the mandatory condition of settlement of all liquor shops in the state at one go and second, club two or more districts where minimum retail trade licence fee can be compensated.

Under both the circumstances, the liquor syndicate of Chhattisgarh and its partners are expected to benefit, excise department officials pointed out.

Bootleggers nabbed

As liquor shops remain closed in the absence of retail liquor trade bidders, bootleggers are getting liquor from Purulia (Bengal), Nawada (Bihar), Hazaribagh, Asansol and Andhra Pradesh border areas. Bokaro deputy superintendent of police Sadhya Rani and her team has nabbed three bootleggers — Ranbir Yadav, Lal Bihari Yadav and Chotu Kumar — selling liquor at very high prices.