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Time to say cheers again for bars, hotels


LUDHIANA: Businesses hit by the booze ban imposed by the Supreme Court have something to cheer.

As many as 170 bars, restaurants, hotels and marriage palaces located on or near highways in Ludhiana will be serving liquor again as the state government has amended the Punjab Excise Act, thereby allowing these businesses, except for liquor vends, which fall within 500 meters of any state or national highway to sell liquor.

There are about 1,600 bars, restaurants, hotels and marriage palaces in Punjab which were on the verge of closure due to the liquor ban imposed by Supreme Court.

Though the exemption is yet to be officially announced by the state excise and taxation department which will take a day or two, the department of legal and legislative affairs has issued a notification of amendment of the excise Act, thereby paving the way for the excise and taxation department to start issuing liquor licenses to the businessmen engaged in the hospitality business.

Vivek Partap Singh, excise and taxation commissioner, Punjab, said, “We have received a go ahead from the government and the departments concerned for modification of the excise Act and exempting bars, hotels and such places, except for liquor vends (located within 500 meters radius of highways) to serve liquor. As soon as all the formalities in this regard are complete, we will issue an official notification within a day or so and it is after which businessmen can apply for liquor licence.”

Meanwhile, the hotel and restaurant industry is in a jubilant mood after the latest development.

Amarveer Singh, general secretary of the Hotel and Restaurant Association, Punjab, said, “We are thankful to the chief minister and the government officials who understood our pain and took this decision which will go a long way to save our industry from being destroyed. Around 1,600 hotels, restaurants, marriage palaces were facing closure ever since they were banned from serving liquor.”

Singh also said, “Ludhiana alone has 170 such establishments which turned into loss-making units due to the ban and many such hotels, restaurants were in the process of closing down after incurring heavy losses since April. But thanks to the amendment in excise Act, our industry has got a new lease of life.”

Ever since the liquor ban came into effect on April 1, the hospitality sector had been demanding from government to denotify state and national highways and exempt them from the ban. Punjab cabinet in its meeting on June 20 ordered the amendment of Punjab Excise Act, exempting hotels, restaurants, bars located within 500 meters of national and state highways from the liquor ban.

The notification about amendment in the excise Act, issued by the department of legal and legislative affairs, on July 17 read as, “Notwithstanding anything contained in any judgement, decree or order of any court, tribunal or authority, every club, hotel, restaurant or any notified place having a license shall be entitled to engage in the supply of liquor within the premises of such club, hotel, restaurant or notified place, located on or near any national or state highway.”

Source: Times of India

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