Suspecting corruption and financial irregularities, the BJP government of the state on Wednesday reversed the liquor policy of the previous Congress government and scrapped Himachal Pradesh Beverages Limited (HPBL) — a PSU set-up in July 2016 for wholesale liquor trade.
The decision was taken at a special Cabinet meeting, held here at Vidhan Sabha complex, which also decided to order a probe into all irregularities in the liquor business and fix the responsibility on the persons, including government servants for losses caused to the state exchequer due to their wrong decisions.
Though, the HPBL was mandated to procure liquor stock from manufacturing companies and then release it to the retailers but same was also allegedly bypassed to favour certain individuals who were given licences like L -1D and L -13D to set-up their own storages/depots.
A senior government official confirmed: “It was decided that the HP Beverage Limited will be wound up in due course, and the old system of wholesale will be restored. The wholesale liquor licences will be given to the Himachalis.”
He said the Cabinet has also decided to reverse the decision of last government on excise policy and decided to discontinue the licences in form L-1D and L-13D.
Reports said in all 56 such licences were given out. There are allegations of corruption involving these licences. Further, there were certain liquor traders who have not paid arrears to the tune of Rs 17 crore to the HPBL, but they were still getting the supplies.
The modalities for the probe will be decided by the Excise and Taxation department, which may include lodging of the FIR as several BJP MLAs, some of them now ministers, had raised the issue of corruption in the liquor trade in the state Assembly and was also part of the BJP’s chargesheet submitted to the Governor Acharya Devvrat.
The Cabinet also decided to increase the procurement price of citrus fruits like kinnu, malta, galgal and oranges under Market Intervention Scheme. The procurement price for 500 MT of kinnu, malta, and oranges for B category will be Rs 7 per kg, for C category Rs 6.50 per kg.