The Haryana government is considering changes in the law to ensure that those caught smuggling liquor do not get bail for six months, Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala Tuesday said.
“As per present provisions in the law, the offence is bailable and those caught smuggling liquor get bail within 15 days. However, we will soon make changes in the existing law making the offence non-bailable for six months so that it serves as a deterrent and liquor smuggling could be totally curtailed in the state,” Chautala, who also holds the excise portfolio, informed the Haryana Vidhan Sabha.
Chautala was replying to the questions raised by Congress’s Rohtak MLA BB Batra on the government’s new excise policy for the year 2020-21.
During the Zero Hour, the opposition took on the government over the new excise policy that shall be effective from April 1 onwards. The opposition claimed that various provisions of the new policy will encourage liquor addiction among youths.
Among other things, the policy provides that bars in Gurgaon, Faridabad and Panchkula will soon remain open till 1 am as against existing rules that doesn’t allow them to run after midnight. The bars in these cities will be able to extend their closing time by another two hours after 1 am by paying an additional annual licence fee of Rs 10 lakh per hour. The excise duty on beer across categories has been slashed by Rs 10 per bulk litre (BL) under the policy.
Congress leader Kiran Choudhary said “there is no doubt that liquor smuggling in the state is going on in a big way” and “the government should tell us what steps is it taking to prevent it”. She said that against a single bill issued to one truck moving out of a distillery, four-five trucks are getting out leading to rampant liquor smuggling.
Chautala then detailed the measures taken by the government to curb liquor smuggling. “We are introducing two mechanisms. First, we will be tracking each and every liquor bottle with QR code from the point it moves out of the distillery till the point it reaches the end user. Besides that, we have decided to implement POS system. If a receipt is not issued, it will attract a penalty of Rs 5,000. Second, we have already decided that no new license to distilleries shall be issued. To monitor 42 lakh proof litre capacity of liquor, we will be installing flow meters in each and every distillery. Besides this, CCTV cameras shall be installed in each and every distillery,” Chautala said.
Earlier, Batra pointed out that the new policy allows an individual to get a temporary licence and :store six bottles of country liquor, 12 bottles of beer…rum, Indian Made Foreign Liquor.in this way one can open a mini liquor vend inside one’s house and misuse it”.
Chautala told the House that the provision was made by the previous Congress regime.
This led to heated discussions among the members of treasury and opposition benches. Later, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar clarified that the “possession limit”, which current policy mentions was first included in the excise policy by the Congress government in 2007-08 and it has not been changed ever since.
Leader of the Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda also raised questions on “shutting down of liquor vends in villages” claiming that it will lead to “increase in liquor smuggling”. Calling the new excise policy as a “recipe for disaster”, Hooda demanded that the government must withdraw the policy. Hooda added that “if the government is so confident and boasting of its policy, then why BJP’s state chief Subhash Barala is also criticising the same policy and giving statements that certain provisions should be rolled back”.
However, rebutting opposition’s claims on smuggling, Chautala said, “If any distillery is found selling liquor illegally, a fine of Rs 1 lakh will be imposed for first offence, Rs 2 lakh for second, Rs 5 lakh for the third offence and the distillery’s license shall be cancelled for the subsequent offence”.
‘Power lines passing over densely populated areas will be shifted’ Haryana Power Minister Ranjit Chautala said Tuesday that all the low tension or high tension lines passing over the densely populated areas and public places including schools, colleges, parks and ponds will be shifted on a priority basis, while the shifting cost the lines will be borne by the Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigams.
The minister shared this information while replying to a question asked during the ongoing Budget Session in Haryana Vidhan Sabha, here.
He made the House aware that a policy has been formulated by the state government to move such lines or poles. “The power infrastructure in the state has been established for a long time, while the roads were constructed and widened later. Some residents had built their houses under previously laid lines, because of which the power lines came above or in the middle in some houses, ponds, and ‘firnis’,” said the minister.
Responding to another question, the minister said that the directions have been given to provide electricity connections to all Dhanis falling within the radius of one kilometre from Lal Dora in the villages.
In reply to a separate question, Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister Jai Parkash Dalal said that concrete steps are being taken to tackle the problem of stray cattle and also to save cows. “The state government has also planned to launch a new scheme under which a special grant will be given to those gaushalas who will rehabilitate the stray cattle in their gaushalas.”
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