It seeks to weed out 200-odd seedy liquor bars

The Congress leadership is considering a new formula that will help sort out the ongoing row over the issue of liquor bar licence. The new formula seeks to weed out 200-odd seedy liquor bars, besides ensuring the quality standards of those who finally get the licence through a process of an independent inspection committee.

The new formula, if approved by the 12-member Congress-government coordination committee at its proposed meeting on Tuesday morning, will be presented at a United Democratic Front (UDF) high-power committee meeting in the afternoon for its political clearance. The formula has been worked out by Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala. According to the proposal, bar licences can be given to establishments that have two-star facilities and those which have two-star certificates but have not renewed them. Around 60 to 67 of the controversial 418 bars that had been shut down will become eligible for licences if this norm is adopted.

If standard and certification is made mandatory, only a few bars would be eligible.

He proposed setting up a subcommittee comprising the District Collector, District Excise Commissioner, and the Deputy Director of Tourism to examine the two-star quality standards of rest of the bars.

Panel report

The subcommittee should be asked to submit its report within a month and based on the report the licence should be given only to liquor bars which maintain two-star standards. If this norm is accepted, then 150 to 200 bars will become eligible for licence. Liquor bars that fail to meet these stipulations should be closed down permanently. The committee should be asked to review the standards of the 316 bars that have been given temporary licence earlier this month. Those which fail to measure up to the stipulated standards should be closed down. He also suggested amendments to the Abkari Act to facilitate closure of extension counters of liquor bars. Sources said that if the alternative formula was implemented, at least 118 of the 418 bars closed ones and 85 to 90 out of the 316 that were given sanction earlier this month could be shut down for being substandard.

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