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State Govt Moves To ‘Bar’ Open Use of Historic Names


Committee formed to amend existing law and curb the use of names of icons, heritage forts when it comes to beer, wine and liquor shops, permit rooms

The powers-that-be have an eye on what they believe is a ‘spirited’ appropriation of cultural heritage. In a first-of-its-kind move, the state government is all set to draft a new law that prohibits beer bars, wine and liquor shops and permit rooms from using names of national or state figures and historic forts.

To consolidate this legislation, the state departments of labour and state excise appointed a 16-member committee on Saturday, aiming to amend the Maharashtra Shops and Establishments Act, 1948. Headed by the labour minister, this committee will submit a report to the state within a month, after which the law will be enacted and its implementation initiated.

According to officials, the decision to enact this law was taken because there is no rule that prevents the misuse of such names, which they believe is an attempt to disfigure history — in fact, the matter has been raised during several state Assembly sessions. Along the way, excise minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule and labour minister Prakash Mehta had both assured the House that amendments would be made in the existing law “to maintain respect for national icons and heritage locations”.

While Mehta heads the committee, Opposition leaders Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and Jayant Patil, as well as 13 others, including the additional chief secretary of state excise, principal secretary of labour, excise commissioner and labour commissioner, will work as part of this committee.

Speaking about the development, Praveen Gaikwad, section officer of the state labour department, shared, “The committee has been assigned to reform the Maharashtra Shops and Establishments Act, 1948. It will now be equipped with a provision wherein the names of national figures and forts will be prohibited for a specific kind of establishment. Any attempt to ignore this regulation will result in the cancellation of one’s license.”

He added, “Once the report comes out, the government will also seek the opinion of the state law and judiciary department before drafting the proposed law.”

Committee member and Shiv Sena party member, Neelam Gorhe, told Mirror, “The names of so many national icons and reformers are disrespected when they are put up in front of liquor shops and bars. It may not be an intentional insult, but it certainly hurts the sentiments of the people. This new amendment will help maintain respect for our heroes and their heroic acts. Further, our forts reflect the historic courage of great warriors, which is why these locations were also included in our efforts.”

The Member of Legislative Council (MLC) added, “We will ensure that this move fructifies by the monsoon session of the state legislature this July. We also plan to bring the names of gods and goddesses under the ambit of this law, but have not insisted on it just yet.”

However, several owners of such establishments have been thrown into confusion about what they believe is unnecessary moral policing. Satish Khandve, the owner of the Torna Restaurant and Bar at Dhanori, said, “While we are ready to change the name of our eatery, it will definitely create a negative impact on our brand name. We, too, are proud of our history. However, how does using a historic name for a bar show any disrespect?” Others, however, seemed more amenable to the cause. K Shivaji, owner of the Shivaba Darbar resto-bar in Lohegaon, said, “We are absolutely in favour of this amendment. We are ready to change our establishment’s name, but the government must support us while processing all formalities related to change in title.”

Source:  Pune Mirror

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