Bar Licence Row: No Result Likely in Today's UDF Meet - The New Indian Express

Bar Licence Row: No Result Likely in Today's UDF Meet

Published: 29th April 2014 08:52 AM

Last Updated: 29th April 2014 08:53 AM

The scope of breaking the ice on the issue of renewal of licence of 418 sub-standard bars at the UDF meeting scheduled on Tuesday has diminished amid growing mistrust and no formal talks taking place between the government and the KPCC leadership on Monday.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy indicated to ‘Express’ that he is quite uncertain about a breakthrough on Tuesday. “A solution will have to emerge somehow. But I   cannot say whether it will come up tomorrow itself,” Chandy said.

It is understood that the Chief Minister is   keen to seek the opinion of coalition partners also on the issue. The IUML has taken a stand that all sub-standard bars should remain closed. But as of now, the UDF partners have not stepped in to thrash out a settlement.

Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, who has emerged as a mediator in the stand-off between Chandy and KPCC president V M Sudheeran, put forward a set of proposals on Monday to overcome the stalemate.

However, Sudheeran has reportedly made it clear that many points in the proposal cannot be accepted, while Chandy maintained a stoic silence.

Sudheeran expects the IUML to support his stand as the avowed policy of the latter is achieving liquor prohibition in the state. It is understood that Chandy and Excise Minister K Babu are lenient towards the proposal of closing down around 200 sub-standard bars in the state permanently. 

Chandy and Sudheeran were in the capital on Monday, but did not hold formal consultations. Sudheeran rang up Chandy, Ramesh and Babu to convey his willingness for talks.

“I replied that I was willing for talks. Accordingly, a round of talks is slated on Tuesday afternoon, prior to the UDF meet,” Babu told ‘Express’, while adding that he is unsure of its outcome.

However, the Chief Minister was obviously not keen on talks with Sudheeran at this juncture while Ramesh was away in Kochi.

Both Chandy and Ramesh had flown to Chennai in the evening to attend a private function.

They are expected to be back here on Tuesday morning.

“Sudheeran had informed me that he will be available for talks, but I was away in Kochi,” Ramesh said. “I’ll hold talks with the Chief Minister on the matter in Chennai tonight,” he said.

KPCC vice-president M M Hassan and others are in touch with Babu, as Sudheeran has made it clear that he was open to other alternatives.

The imbroglio arose after Sudheeran remained adamant that no bars without both two-star classification certificates and adequate facilities be opened, while the Chief Minister and others took a position that the licences of the entire bars lying closed shall be renewed and a time limit of one year be given to attain two-star standards as well as classification certificates from the Tourism Department.

5-point Proposals

n Out of the 418 bars, licences of 60 to 67 bars that had secured two-star classification certificates in the past but didn’t renew it and are still maintaining adequate facilities, can be renewed. If both classification certificate and star standards are insisted, only three to four bars will be able to function.

n In case of other bars in the 418 category, a sub-committee comprising the District Collector, District Excise Commissioner and Tourism Department Deputy Director can be asked to file a report within a month on the facilities.

It is understood that only 150-200 bars have two-star facilities. The remaining bars can be closed down.

n The sub-committee will inspect the 316 bars which are allowed to function and direct closure of such bars where sub-standard facilities are detected.

n Abkari Act should be amended to prevent functioning of extension counters in bars.

n On the basis of the above guidelines, at least 118 bars in the 418 substandard category list and 85-90 from the 316 bars can be closed.

Also Read:

Bar Licence Renewal Issue: 'Jilted' Sudheeran Stumbling Block to Solution?  

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