In yet another step to increase revenue, the Madhya Pradesh government has allowed existing liquor shop owners to set up one or more sub-shops by paying an additional amount. The Opposition BJP said the move will lead to an increase in crime against women.
According to the new rules, sub-shops can be opened in only those areas where there is a demand for illicit liquor, according to a notification issued by the Excise Department, which has set Rs 13,000 crore as the revenue target for 2019-20.
In urban areas, the licensee will be able to open one or more sub-shops only if there are no other shops of the same category within five kilometres. In rural areas, the limit is 10 km.
To set up a sub-shop of a store whose auction price is less than Rs 2 crore, the licensee will have to pay 15 per cent. The amount will marginally go up for shops auctioned between Rs 2 and Rs 5 crore, and those auctioned for Rs 5 crore and more. The government’s decision drew flak from the Opposition BJP, which said the sub-shops will spell doom for the state. They accused the Kamal Nath government of converting Madhya Pradesh into “Madira Pradesh”.
Calling the notification a new year gift to the liquor mafia, former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said it will have a long-standing ill effect on the state. “In no way can the decision be justified. Crime rate will go up and women will be at the receiving end,” the senior BJP leader said in a letter to Chief Minister Kamal Nath.
Requesting the government to withdraw the notification, Chouhan said his government did not allow a single new shop to come up during his time and was preparing to gradually decrease their number.
Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargava said the move will lead to an increase in crime against women. “Domestic violence and immoral activities will increase. Daily wagers will spend their wages on liquor. The revenue will go up marginally but immorality will increase a thousand times in society,” he said.
Responding to the criticism, Kamal Nath’s media coordinator Narendra Saluja said the decision to open sub-shops was taken to stop the sale of illicit liquor and to prevent loss of life from consumption of spurious liquor and disputes. He said sub shops will be permitted in only those areas where illicit liquor is being sold.
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