Minister for Excise Satish Jarkiholi on Monday said that the department has received nearly 900 applications for starting new liquor shops in the State.
Addressing presspersons here, he said that there was a demand to open five or six liquor shops in each one of the 176 taluks. As the existing liquor shops are located at a distance of 20 km from one another, there was a demand to open new shops. The issue of fresh licences will be discussed with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and also at an all-party meeting.
In 1993, the then government imposed ban on issuing fresh licences to start liquor shops and the ban has reportedly resulted in unauthorised outlets coming up, especially in rural areas. Liquor is available in petty shops, vegetable stalls and other unlicensed business establishments. This meant non-payment of licence fee, he said and added that it was also causing public nuisance.
At present, there are 7,500 liquor shops and bars in the State, including 2,500 in Bangalore. However, several thousand unauthorised shops continue to vend liquor.
The ban on issuing fresh CL-2 licence (for liquor shops) and CL-9 licence (for bars) continues despite three proposals, including one after a Karnataka High Court direction citing Rule 12 of the Excise Act 2010, submitted by the Department of Excise seeking removal of the ban.
Excise Rule 12 stipulates a shop selling liquor or a bar for every 7,500 people. However, though population has increased since 1993 when the ban was imposed, the number of liquor outlets has not increased.
Still, a good number of people have been operating illicit liquor business in Bijapur, Belgaum and Bagalkot districts. The department has decided to rehabilitate them if families come out of the illicit trade. A plan has been prepared to rehabilitate 2,000 families that were into spurious liquor business, Mr. Jarkiholi said.
To a query, he said that there was no proposal before the government to sell cheap liquor.
He said that the department has commenced recruitment drive and 1,200 vacancies would be filled in the next two years. The process for recruiting 500 inspectors and guards has commenced. It had been delayed owing to delay in getting Presidential assent for the Constitutional amendment for special status to the Hyderabad-Karnataka region.
On the revenue front, the Minister said that collection had reached Rs. 6,000 crore in the first six months of this fiscal. The government has set the target at Rs. 12,400 crore for 2013-14. Last year’s (2012-13) revenue was Rs. 11,400 crore, he said.