Karnataka government plans to allow the sale of liquor for limited hours if the lockdown is extended beyond April 14. The excise department has offered to allow the sale of liquor between 10 am and 1 pm.
Dry days are likely to end
Last month, alcohol addicts allegedly committed suicide in Karnataka as they were unable to procure liquor due to the closure of liquor outlets in the state during the lockdown amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
According to the Times of India, the government is thinking to make liquor available as the above incidents are on the rise. Moreover, the incidents of thefts targeting wine stores are also on the rise across the state since March 24.
The excise department has offered to allow the sale of liquor between 10 am and 1 pm if the lockdown is extended beyond April 14 and the CM will take the final call, an officer said.
Karnataka banned the liquor sale on March 21, four days before the nationwide lockdown announced by PM Modi took effect. Financial consideration has also prompted the government to think over the issue as a sale of liquor is the second-highest money-spinner, after commercial tax, for the state government.
“The government is cash-strapped since the lockdown has hampered revenue collection. It’s short of the revenue target by about Rs 5,000 crore. So it has to find ways to better its revenue collection by allowing the sale of liquor,’’ an excise official said defending the move.
Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa ruled out the resumption of liquor sale before April 14. “We’ll think of allowing sale only after that,” he added.
Fearing a sudden rush if bars are opened for only a few hours, a senior excise official said the government must allow “all liquor shops” to function for a full day or permit only MSIL outlets to operate full time, besides announcing stringent guidelines for the public to follow while buying liquor.