CHENNAI: New Advocate General Vijay Narayan literally brought cheers to a large section in Tamil Nadu with one of his first official opinions in the new role that bars and permit rooms serving liquor in clubs and hotels functioning within the municipal area could be reopened. Following his advice on Thursday, the Excise Commissioner directed District Collectors on Friday to permit licensed establishments located within the limits of municipal corporations, municipalities and town panchayats with immediate effect.
In his communication dated September 1, Kirlosh Kumar, Commissioner of Prohibition and Excise, has also directed the Collectors to send in a compliance report immediately. The A-G gave his opinion on the basis of the August 11 order of the SC, which clarified that the highway liquor ban that it had ordered earlier was not applicable to licensed establishments in municipal areas.
Based on this clarification, West Bengal, Assam, Karnataka, New Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala have already granted permission to reopen the shops within municipal areas, noted the commissioner in his letter. The hotel and hospitality industry, which has been anxiously waiting for this clearance, is understandably relieved by the move.
The Tamil Nadu Bar and Club Owners Association, in its letter on August 24, requested the government to accord permission to re-open bars and permit rooms in hotels and club within the city or town limits. M Ravi, president of Chennai Hotel Owners Association, told Express that this would revive the hotel and tourism sector which lost businesses due to the clampdown enforced by the apex court. “Events and programmes that were scheduled to happen in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry were shifted to the neighbouring countries such as Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand due to the order. This affected our businesses badly,” Ravi said.
“There was a stage when many of us even thought of closing the hotels,” he added. Srinivasan Radhakrishnan, executive committee member of South India Hotels and Restaurant Associations, said that the clampdown had affected the revenue earned through rooms and events. “There was a sizable fall in revenue in the last two months,” said the owner of Radha Regent and Feathers Hotels, but refused to divulge details about the losses.