The State government would not issue licences for new liquor shops, Minister for Excise Satish Jarkiholi said here on Saturday.

During his visit to the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) office here, the Minister said licences to open new liquor shops were last issued in 1992. “Although there is a provision to open new shops, as per the Karnataka Excise Act, successive governments have not issued new licences and we will continue the same policy,” he said.

Mr. Jarkiholi had said in November that there was a demand for opening five or six liquor shops in each of the 176 taluks.

“The government is ready to issue licences. But there has been opposition to it from many quarters. Hence, the government is hesitant to take a decision in this regard,” he had said then.

There are about 7,500 liquor shops and bars in the State, of which 2,500 are in Bangalore city.

Admitting that people in certain rural areas were illegally selling liquor at petty shops after purchasing them at outlets of the Mysore Sales International Ltd. (MSIL), the Minister said action was being initiated against such illegal practices. “Several cases have been booked in the last few months,” he said.

Mr. Jarkiholi said the 2,200 vacancies in the Excise Department would be filled soon.

“The process of recruiting 500 personnel has already started and the appointment orders will be issued soon. The remaining vacancies will be filled after that,” he said.

Spurious liquor

Admitting that the sale of spurious liquor was rampant in north Karnataka, especially in Belgaum, Bijapur, Bagalkot, Gadag, Dharwad, Gulbarga and Bidar, Mr. Jarkiholi said nearly 3,000 people were involved in the business. “Steps are being taken to rehabilitate those who are involved in manufacture and sale of spurious liquor in the State. It will be done through the Social Welfare Department. Several welfare measures, including allotting land, subsidies and loans to set up new businesses are being offered to them,” he said.

Replying to queries, the Minister said there was no requisition from liquor shops and bar owners to permit business beyond 11 p.m.

He expressed confidence that the Excise Department would be able to meet its revenue collection target of Rs. 12,600 crore this fiscal. He said complaints regarding liquor shops in the vicinity of schools and places of worship were being considered seriously. “We are getting these shops relocated,” he added.