PUDUCHERRY: After a long dry spell, tipplers in Puducherry have reason to cheer with liquor shops reopening in the Union Territory from Tuesday. However, bars have not been permitted to open.
Announcing this after chairing a cabinet meeting, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy said liquor shops have been permitted to function from 7 AM to 7 PM. People coming to purchase liquor will have to wear masks and maintain social distancing, he said, adding that all other shops hitherto functioning from 6 AM to 5 PM will also remain open till 7 PM from Tuesday.
Police and excise personnel will control the crowds coming to liquor shops for the first two days, he said. A decision on imposing a COVID-19 tax on liquor and petrol will be taken within a couple of days.
These are part of lockdown relaxations which continues to remain in force till May 31 as per the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, he said.
The Grand Bazaar fish market will be allowed to open from Tuesday but fish vendors and people will have to wear masks and maintain social distancing, he said.
The administration has permitted buses to operate within the limits of Puducherry with passengers adopting social distancing. The Chief Minister said there was a demand to operate buses from Puducherry to Karaikal region of the Union Territory.
The government is planning to operate buses which go straight to Karaikal without stopping in Tamil Nadu and vice-versa, he said. The matter would be taken up with the Tamil Nadu government and a decision to operate a non-stop bus to Karaikal will be taken thereafter.
Autorickshaws and taxis has been permitted within the various regions of Puducherry. Only two people will be allowed to travel in an auto rickshaw and four in a four wheeler including taxis. He said eateries could also function from 6 AM to 7 PM but only takeaway services will be allowed.
Masks and sanitizers should be available in all shops and those coming to the shops also should wear masks and maintain social distancing, the CM said. Only 50 people can participate in marriages and 20 in funerals, he added
Already, near normalcy has returned to some areas here and in another few days normalcy will return to all areas of Puducherry, he said, adding that the government is taking steps to boost the revenue while protecting the lives of people from COVID-19.
Objecting to the decision of the Centre to corporatise the electricity distribution sector, Narayanasamy said that he had written to the Prime Minister against taking any decision on the issue without consulting state governments.
Such a decision would affect the government schemes of free power supply to farmers and up to 100 units of free power to the poor. These will be stopped if the sector was privatized, he said, adding that he is yet to get a reply from the Prime Minister. Even the BJP trade union is opposing this proposal, he added.