BHOPAL: Despite chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s decision to shut down the liquor shops in those districts where they are close to the Narmada river, government revenue is going up following re-auctioning of the booze outlets.
The process of re-auctioning of liquor shops across MP is on. “State government had fixed a target of generating 15% more revenue than last year and we have achieved it,” excise commissioner Arun Kochar told TOI. The earnings generated from excise in 2016-17 was Rs 7,500 crore.
During ‘Namami Devi Narmada’ (save Narmada campaign), the chief minister administered oath to the people to give up liquor. He had also announced to close down 68 liquor shops that are located within 5 km radius of Narmada river in 12 districts where the river flows. Notably, their closure will result in the state incurring a loss of about Rs 118 crore. However, Kochar told TOI that wherever the contracts have been renewed, the contract sum has risen 15%. “Incidentally, the dozen districts also include Harda and Hoshangabad, with both located on the banks of the Narmada,” he said. In Harda, two shops near Handia village will be shut as they fall within the parameter of 5 km radius of the river. However, the revenue from the remaining 18 shops in the district after renewal of the contract will be Rs 40,08,46,452 as compared to Rs 34,85,621,32 that was generated from 20 shops in 2016-17.
A liquor contractor said that the government has played a trick by saying that it will close down shops located in the vicinity of the river and incur a loss of more than Rs 100 crore. “They may be closing down shops but will be earning revenue from the other liquor outlets located in the same district,” he said. Similarly, the government is also not closing down any shop despite the SC’s order to shift those situated within 500 metres of highways. It is to be noted that as many as 40% shops fall in this category. Districts where contracts of liquor shops could not be renewed, the excise department has e-tendered for auction. The fate of such shops and revenue generated through them will be known after February 23.
Chouhan had said that he will examine the models of Bihar and Gujarat – the two dry states of the country – before taking any decision and had also claimed that he is not bothered about loss of revenue.