40,000 liquor permit holders stare at week-long ‘dry’ run

Liquor

Around 40,000 liquor permit holders of the state are likely to go dry for almost a week as state Prohibition and Excise Department issued a circular on Monday banning sale of liquor from Tuesday onwards to next Monday even at permitted shops across the state.

The circular, issued late on Monday evening, banned sale of liquor at all the 28 liquor shops in the state from 5 pm on Tuesday to 5 pm next Monday. The same orders would remain effective for full day on December 20, the day of counting of vote.

This effectively means that around 40,000 permit holders would not be able to buy liquor from anywhere for a week, officials said.

"We have acted after receiving instructions from state Home Department, which in turn, was instructed on the matter by Election Commission (EC). Usually, we issue such orders for 48 hours during elections. But since polling is being held in two phases this time, the ban would for a little longer," Bharat Purohit, in-charge director of the department told The Indian Express on Tuesday.

Campaigning came to an end on Tuesday for the first phase of Assembly elections in Saurashtra and south Gujarat regions of the state. Polling for 87 seats in these regions is to be held on Thursday. Similarly, central and south Gujarat as well as Kutch would vote on next Monday, December 17, in the second phase.

"We suspect illegal movement of liquor from Saurashtra and south Gujarat to other parts of the state if we were to issue different circulars for two phases of polls with different duration. To overcome such a scenario, we have imposed a blanket ban across state," Purohit further said.

"When I went to buy my quota, I was told sale was banned and shops would remain closed. I have been holding liquor permit for last 20 years. It will be very difficult for me to survive for this long," Shailesh Pandya, a resident of Vadodara, said. There are six permitted wine shops in Vadodara city.

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