Acting on orders of the state Lokayukta, the excise department suspended the liquor licence of Kamla Vihar Sports Club in Kandivli West earlier this week holding that the structure has been constructed on land reserved for a recreation ground.
A day after the club’s liquor licence was suspended, BJP MP Gopal Shetty, who is listed as one of the trustees of the club, wrote to the excise department asking for a list of other clubs constructed on open spaces where similar action was yet to be taken. The matter was brought to light by Reggie Abraham, a member of United Association for Social Education and Public Welfare Trust, who said the club was operating on land marked as an open space.
He approached the Lokayukta on August 12 last year and after a series of hearings, on May 5 this year, the Lokayukta, M L Tahaliyani, ordered the excise department to consider if the liquor licence could be suspended until the case is concluded.
In response to the order, on May 16, the acting collector, Hiralal Sonawane, issued orders to the excise department to immediately suspend the liquor licence of the club until the final order is given in the matter.
The superintendent of the state excise department, Santosh Zagade, said the liquor licence was suspended on the same day. “We conducted two hearings with the officials of Kamla Vihar Sports Club at the suburban collector’s office on May 11 and May 15 after which we issued the notice of suspension of the permit on May 16,” he said.
Elated with the order, Abraham said it was just the tip of the iceberg. “This is definitely a welcome beginning. But there are several other instances where elected representatives have taken over public land and are using it for their personal interests. This order will hopefully force officials who are covertly supporting these politicians to wake up and take action against them,” he said.
BJP Lok Sabha member Shetty said he was happy with the action taken. He has also written to BJP MLA Chandrashekhar Bawankule, the minister heading the excise department, to congratulate Sonawane’s efforts.
“I welcome this move and the officer who has taken speedy action on the Lokayukta’s orders should be applauded. There are other bars on recreation grounds from Colaba to Dahisar and action should be taken against all of them as well since bars should not be allowed to operate on R G plots. I have asked for a list of other such clubs where such action needs to be taken,” he said.
Distancing himself from the club’s management, Shetty pointed out that as an elected representative, he had simply helped in developing the plot and had no role to play in the opening of the bar on the club premises.
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