Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir government said it has not imposed a complete ban on sale and purchase of liquor in the state as it could prove counter-productive, resulting in clandestine smuggling of liquor.
"Imposition of prohibition in a state of country in isolation is going to prove counter-productive and result in clandestine smuggling of liquor into the state from other states of the country," Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather said in a written reply in the Legislative Assembly.
Responding to the question of PDP MLA Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali, Rather said, "It is not possible to impose total prohibition on the sale and purchase of the liquor in the state. The government has issued an excise policy in 2003 restricting and regulating trade in liquor till the time it is considered appropriate to bring about total prohibition."
Listing other reasons, the Minister said Jammu and Kashmir being a tourist destination has to keep in view the requirement of the tourism. It has been observed that imposition of total prohibition results in manufacturing of spurious and poisonous liquors, he
Rather said no new liquor shop licenses have been issued since the National Conference led coalition government has taken over the reins of the state about two years ago. However, eight licenses each were issued to various bars in Jammu and Leh district of Ladakh region during the year 2008-09, the finance minister said, adding there are 226 wine shops owned by private parties in the state.
The winter capital of Jammu has the highest number of 135 such shops while only four wine shops are located in the summer capital Srinagar. Rather said the licenses for establishment of liquor shops are issued strictly as per the provisions of the state
Excise act and liquor license and sale rules.
"No gender based discrimination is made while selecting applicants for issuance of such licenses," he said, adding licenses have also been issued to 23 women who applied for the
same in the past.