No intent to promote liquor vends near schools, religious places in JK: Officials

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JAMMU: There has been no intention to promote liquor vends near schools, religious places or hospitals in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said Monday, noting that the new excise policy for the year 2019-20 aims at balancing the aspirations of various stakeholders.

The excise policy is announced every year to define the duties and procedures to levy the taxes and duties and also to remove any difficulty in regulating the sale of liquor.

The opening of the liquor vends is regulated by the J&K Excise Act, 1958 and the rules framed there under a government order issued on December 13, 1984.  Under these rules, new vends are to be opened after due notification for objection of the general public and seeking opinion of the district magistrate, senior superintendent of police and municipal authority.

“The (excise) department is fully conscious of the sentiments of the people and these shall be fully taken care of while considering cases for regularization or issuing of licenses and it is not the intention of the government to promote these near schools, religious places or near hospitals,” a spokesman of the department said.

Dispelling any apprehension with regard to the new excise policy, he said in the policy for 2017-18, it was for the first time defined that the distance of the liquor vend from the religious places, educational institutions, hospital or existing liquor shops should be 100 metres.

However, this position was changed in the excise policy for 2018-19 and the distance between such establishments was defined as 300 metres, the spokesman said.

“In the current new policy (2019-20), the same position as was existing in the policy for 2017-18 has been maintained and no new criteria has been adopted,” the spokesman said.

He said the opening of sub vends during 2004-05 in unserved and underserved areas was mainly to control the illicit liquor and psychotropic substances.

“Eleven such vends are operational since 2005 in various areas of the state and current policy has made various provisions to regularize these already operational sub vends subject to fulfilment of formalilites as envisaged in the J&K Liquor License and Sales rules, considering the fact that these are operational since last 15 years and people of the area have been utilizing the services of these vends,” the spokesman said.

He said the new excise policy for the year 2019-20 aims at balancing the aspirations of the citizens, consumers, manufacturers, wholesalers and the government keeping in view drinking is injurious to health, and it is the state’s duty to contain and regulate its use.

“The department is fully conscious of the sentiments of the people and these shall be fully taken care of while considering cases for regularization or issuing of licenses and it is not the intention of the government to promote these near schools, religious places or near hospitals,” the spokesman added.

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