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Bar owners seek govt intervention over ban on liquor along highways


More than 500 owners and employees of bars across the state took out a silent march from Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna Railway Station to Freedom Park, demanding that the state government emulate Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, which have amended the act to allow pubs and bars to function 500 metres from highways.

The march was organised by the Federation of Wine Merchants’ Association (FWMA) on Monday afternoon.

With a ban on the sale of liquor within 500 metres of national highways, most bars and pubs on MG Road, in Indiranagar and on Church Street shut shop and have been incurring losses. After the Supreme Court ordered on July 4 that national highways within the city could be denotified, the Punjab and Himachal Pradesh governments amended the existing excise rules, the association said.

Guruswamy, chairman, FWMA, told reporters, “With the announcement of the liquor ban, I feel I have lost something close to my heart. The pain caused by the ban is unbearable. Our only appeal to the Chief Minister (Siddaramaiah) is to grant us permission to carry on our business like we were doing before.”

M Meharwade, treasurer, FWMA said the protest has been staged to save the livelihood of 6,000 people associated with the industry. “Around 6,000 people are dependent on this industry in Karnataka. It breaks my heart to see the suffering of these people.”

Meanwhile, Lokesh of Bangalore District Division, FWMA, said, “We have been appealing to the government to make amendments for the past three months. Our industry generates revenues of around Rs 18,000 crore. We have contributed thousands of crores to the government in taxes. We are proud to be wine merchants. This ban is causing losses of around Rs 15 crore a day.”

Later, representatives of the federation sought Siddaramaiah’s intervention when they met him and 25 MLAs. The chief minister assured them that the government will take a call on the issue based on the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision on Tuesday.

Source: Deccan Herald

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