BELAGAVI: This New Year will bring cheer to liquor lovers in drought-hit Karnataka. The State Government has approved the opening of 900 more liquor shops through Mysore Sales International Limited. Four shops each will be allotted to the 224 assembly segments.
During Question Hour, H D Revanna’s (JD-S) query about the delay in opening MSIL outlets in his home district Hassan led to an interesting discussion. Many favoured opening more MSIL outlets to check the sale of liquor in unauthorised outlets and controlling the exorbitant rates charged by private liquor shops.
Excise Minister H Y Meti said there was no pressure from private liquor shop owners and only 46 shops out of 460 sanctioned last year were yet to be opened. He said the finance department had approved setting up 900 MSIL shops in phases.
Shivalinge Gowda (JD-S) and others favoured MSIL shops in all gram panchayats. Gowda said many private liquor shops had started giving liquor on credit to poor farmers. In case they are unable to pay, they force them to sell their belongings or leave the village, he claimed. He said the government should open more liquor shops instead of allotting CL7 licence to hotels with 20 rooms.
Shivamurthy Naik (Congress) said the government should allot MSIL shops to families that were into toddy tapping and were the worst affected after arrack ban in the state.
Meanwhile, Opposition leader Jagadish Shettar said the government decision was unfortunate as more than 149 taluks are reeling under drought. They need water, not liquor, he said.
Visveshwara Kagere and Govind Karajol(both BJP)appealed to the senior ministers to put the order on hold in view of drought. They took the government to task for fixing revised excise duty targets.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that the BJP-JD(S) coalition government’s decision to ban arrack resulted in more people consuming Indian-made liquor.
Maintaining that the government had not put pressure to double excise duty, he said members were divided over the liquor outlets. He refused to say anything further.