Hyderabad, June 17 : The Lok Satta Party today took strong exception to Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and State Panchayatiraj Minister K Jana Reddy inciting women to smash illegal liquor outlets, locally known as belt shops, with the assurance that no cases would be instituted against them for indulging in vandalism.
Abdicating its responsibility of shutting down illegal outlets reflects not merely Government’s incompetence but also its irresponsibility, commented Lok Satta Party General Secretary P Ravi Maruthi and Secretary Eeda Chennayya in a media statement.
The leaders pointed out that the emergence and proliferation of belt shops under successive governments is a direct fall-out of the State Government’s flawed liquor policy. Viewing liquor as a perennial source of ever increasing revenue, the Governments have winked at belt shops over the years unmindful of the havoc they are causing to the health and finances of millions of people.
The Lok Satta has repeatedly told the Government that illegal liquor outlets sprout and flourish as long as the Government allocates liquor shops to private traders. Earlier, the Government gave liquor shop licenses to highest bidders. Subsequently, it carried out a steep hike in license fee and allocated shops to traders by lots.
The Lok Satta leaders said if the Government is sincere and serious, belt shops can be eliminated with ease. It can straightway take over retail liquor sales as in States like Tamil Nadu.
If it chooses to persist with private trade, it can entrust panchayats with the responsibility of ensuring that there are no belt shops in their jurisdiction and stipulate that any failure on their part will result in dissolution of the elected body. It can even enlist the services of self-help groups in its campaign against belt shops.
Far from eliminating belt shops, the Government is bent upon promoting liquor consumption going by press reports of its intention to allow permit rooms attached to liquor shops in villages.
Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy has set a record of sorts by unveiling one scheme after another for the benefit of the so-called poor and downtrodden sections. However, by encouraging liquor consumption on a large scale he is doing immense harm to the very sections who he would like to help, said Varma.
The Lok Satta leaders had a dig at TDP President and leader of Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu also for asserting that his second signature on assuming as Chief Minister would be on a GO banning belt shops. Naidu seems to forget that no GO is required for shutting down what are apparently illegal outlets. INN