Bengaluru (PTI): Brushing aside reports that Karnataka government wanted to lift the 23-year-old freeze on issuing licences to open new liquor outlets, Excise Minister Manohar Tahsildar said government would not grant any new licences.
“Our government and our Chief Minister, as of now, have decided not to grant any licence for opening of any new liquor outlets, especially CL-2 in the state,” he told PTI here.
The media had reported that the government wanted to lift the freeze which was in force since 1992 on issuing licences for opening new liquor outlets.
Tahsildar, however, said the government has discussed the matter after a demand was raised by people who had to go to far off places to consume liquor.
“We have discussed the demand to give new licences to open liquor shops. We have not decided. We have to wait and see,” he said.
Asked what was the specific reason for the government to not go ahead with issuing new licences, he said it was not the only means of generating revenue – nevertheless, government generates Rs 15,000 crore excise revenue per annum.
He also said that successive governments since 1992 had not given any licence to open liquor shops.
“The present government at a time when Satish Jarkiholi was Excise Minister, had suggested to the Chief Minister to push the proposal for opening new wine shops and bars, after taking all opposition parties into confidence, who have been vociferously opposing any such plan,” Tahsildar said.
However, the CM had not evinced interest as he sensed the possibility that the opposition parties would seize the issue to politically corner the Congress, Tahsildar said.
Earlier the H D Kumaraswamy and B S Yeddyurappa’s regimes had not considered the request for new bar licences to generate additional revenue. The then JDS-BJP coalition government had banned manufacture and sale of arrack.
Tahsildar said the present government had also expressed desire to introduce cheap liquor for the poor, but dropped it after a strong backlash from the opposition and anti-liquor lobby, including NGOs and social activists.
“Successive governments have not issued new licences since 1992 after taking into consideration the population figures of the 1991 census. But as per the 2011 census, there is need for another 1,750 liquor shops to meet the needs of the present population for quality liquor at a reasonable price,” the Minister said.