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‘No drinking zones’ get mixed reactions from citizens


Sidharth Bhardwaj
Panaji: The recently-concluded monsoon session of the assembly saw the government introduce the Goa Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which has the provision to impose a fine of 1,000, extendable up to 10,000, on anyone found guilty of drinking in a ‘no alcohol consumption zone’, such as beaches, open spaces and roads. The idea is to curb public nuisances caused by drunken, rowdy behaviour and littering.

The ‘no alcohol consumption zones’ will be declared by the government. The list could be amended from time to time, official sources said.

The amendment, however, has witnessed mixed reactions. While many have welcomed it, an equal number doubt its implementation.

Commending the move as the “need of the hour”, shack owner from Baga, John Lobo, is of the opinion that the new law will help curtail public nuisance, specially the type domestic tourists create on beaches after getting drunk. “People leave empty bottles on the beach, which poses a cleanliness problem as well as a health hazard to those walking barefoot. We’ve been urging the tourism department to introduce a law like this for a long time now,” he said.

While the law may be effective in curbing the problem of littering in public places, many feel that its implementation in Goa, which receives around 50 lakh tourists annually, may not be total, considering the revenue generated by the industry.

“I support the Bill, but do not think it will be implemented strongly. Most domestic tourists come here to drink and can be found doing so in public places. So, it will be difficult to curb the issue,” Fatorda-based software engineer Abhijeet Naik, said.
The last few years have seen people catching on to the trend of buying alcohol from wholesale outlets and then sitting in open areas to drink, thus saving on their money. Owners of liquor stores have also begun providing their clients with disposable cups.

“Even tourists, mostly domestic and even some foreigners, will buy alcohol at wholesale marts as they have wizened up on ways to avoid expenditure on restaurant and bar bills,” a hotel owner said.

The biggest fallout of this trend is that public places are ridden with empty or broken bottles, cans and cups, posing a health and safety hazard. “People do not understand how grave the problem is. Besides creating garbage, drinking in public places also promotes the vice amongst minors. A heavy fine can bring the problem under control to some extent,” a villager from Anjuna said.

Some citizens, however, have expressed reservations over the move to have ‘no alcohol consumptions zones’ as they felt the law will have no effect in curbing the nuisance. “Littering is a problem and fines should be imposed to curb this issue. If the government is worried about people getting drunk and misbehaving in public spaces, the same can happen even if a person drinks in a pub,” a student, E Nadkarni, said.c

Source :Times of India

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