Lok Satta

Friday, 07 August 2009 13:17

Lok Satta slams Rosaiah on belt shops

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Finance Minister K. Rosaiah let the cat out of the bag when he said in the Assembly on August 6 that the Government did not propose to eliminate unauthorized liquor outlets (belt shops), the Lok Satta Party charged today.

 

The Lok Satta Party drew pointed attention to the repeated assertions of the Chief Minister, Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, both in the Assembly and outside that there were no belt shops in the State and if there were any they would be shut down if complaints were received. By making the specious plea that elimination of belt shops would promote illicit liquor flow, Mr. Rosaiah conceded the existence of belt shops and unwittingly exposed the Government’s duplicity.

 

Talking to the media, party spokesperson Mrs. Y. Rama Devi, Joint Secretary Mr. E.Chennaiah recalled that Lok Satta and Mahila Satta volunteers had conducted a detailed study and submitted lists of belt shops district-wise, including those in the constituencies of the Chief Minister and the leader of the Opposition.

 

They recalled that on a representation from the Lok Satta, the Election Commission ensured that most of the belt shops did not function during the 2009 general elections and demonstrated that where there is a will, there is always a way. The Election Commission succeeded in closing belt shops in less than a week by utilizing the same administrative machinery and exposed Government’s excuses for failure as lame.

 

“It is evident that the Government is not prepared to kill the goose that lays the golden egg by way of ever increasing revenue. The Government, according to Lok Satta estimates, will be deriving a revenue of Rs.10,500 crore while people are expected to spend not less than Rs.15,000 crore on liquor purchases during the current financial year.”

 

The Lok Satta leaders said. “A Government which claims to be pro-poor is ruining their lives by making liquor available in towns and villages, along national and State highways and at some places round the clock. Addiction to the drink evil has already played havoc with the health and finances of nearly 70 lakh families.

 

“The pro-poor Government would not mind spending crores of rupees under ‘Arogyasri’ to go to the rescue of the terminally ill, including liquor addicts.”

 

The Lok Satta leaders said that under the Excise Act, the Government is expected to control sale of liquor by unauthorized outlets and manufacture and supply of illicit liquor, gudumba etc. “Mr. Rosaiah has now not merely justified the existence of the illegal belt shops but also conceded the Government’s inability (read unwillingness) to eliminate them. In other words, according to Mr. Rosaiah, the Government cannot implement its own laws. He provided a justification for the existence and proliferation of belt shops by arguing that their elimination would facilitate flow of illicit liquor.

 

“The Lok Satta has repeatedly requested the Government to put an end to the auction system under which licensed liquor shops are auctioned to the highest bidders. Those who bag licenses by paying astronomical sums ranging up to Rs.2 crore per shop promote belt shops to maximize their revenue and profits. The Government should ideally take over the liquor retail business as in Delhi and limit the number of outlets as also their timings. Easy accessibility is one of the prime drivers of growing liquor consumption.”