Jammu, Oct 16 (PTI) Denying allegations that the liquor business in Jammu and Kashmir has been taken over by the liquor mafia, the government has said that 100 per cent liquor licenses for liquor shops have been issued to the local natives only.
Excise Commissioner Pankaj Kumar Sharma said in a conversation with PTI that the allegations of liquor mafia controlling the liquor business after the introduction of e-auction here are baseless.
Sharma said, “We have issued a total of 655 licenses this year under the J&K Excise Policy and J&K Liquor License and Sale Rules. Of these, 279 have been issued under J&K EL 2, known as Liquor Shops. At the same time, 250 licenses have been given for restaurants, hotels, banquet halls and clubs as well as bars.
He said that after the introduction of e-bidding and e-auction system last year, 279 liquor shops were e-auctioned and licenses were allotted to the highest bidders. This resulted in revenue of Rs 217 crore to the exchequer as against Rs 123 crore in the previous year.
Around 200 traditional liquor shopkeepers in Jammu have reportedly suffered losses in the e-auction. He has accused the ‘liquor mafia’ of taking over the business from outside Jammu and Kashmir through proxy bidders.
However, Sharma said that there is no scope for any wrongdoing and the e-auction was done in a transparent manner. “We can assure that 100 per cent licenses have been issued to the domiciles of Jammu and Kashmir. There is no person from outside who has a license for liquor shops.
He also defended the availability of beer and ready-to-drink beverages at departmental stores in urban areas, saying, “This move is aimed at encouraging the transition from high-content to low-content harmless alcohols.”