PORT BLAIR: The administration of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands has decided to stop short of imposing prohibition while cutting down on the amount of liquor an individual is permitted to buy at a time.
As per the new policy, which will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2017, any individual would be allowed to purchase two 750 ml bottles of liquor at a time instead of four now. Similarly, only one 1000 ml bottle of liquor can be bought, or four 375 ml bottles, or eight 180 ml bottles.
This, Lt. Gov. Jagadish Mukhi, called “a major change in the excise policy.”
Announcing the new policy at a press conference at the Megapode Nest Resort this evening, Prof Jagadish Mukhi said, “The A&N Administration has decided not to go in for total prohibition of liquor but to push for a check on the growing alcoholism among the youth and reduce liquor consumption.”
A Directorate of Prohibition will be set up to check the problem of growing alcoholism among youngsters in the islands.
Concurrent with the cutbacks, liquor sold at stores run by ANIIDCO is likely to get sharply pricier, bringing them on par with prices in Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi. This may push rates up by 20-25 per cent with the addition of higher octroi and excise duties.
Bar timings will be cut back too, according to the Lt. Governor. As per the new guidelines, liquor outlets with a B1 licence can stay open from 11 am to 11 pm. Those with B2 licences will be open from 4 pm to 10 pm. B3 licence holders can operate from 9 am to 12.00 noon and from 3 pm to 8 pm. B4 licensed bars will remain open from 4 pm to 10.00 pm.
All national holidays and religious days will be dry days unlike the present practice under which liquor is served in licensed bars even on dry days, bar the three national holidays: Republic Day, Gandhi Jayanti and Independence Day.
Apart from this, the Supreme Court has banned the sale of liquor within 500 m of national and state highways everywhere in the country. “In line with this, all liquor shops and bars operating within the said zone along NH 223 and the State Highways will be closed,” Prof Mukhi said.