Karnataka: `No proposal to hike drinking age`

Maharashtra recently increased the minimum age of drinking to 25 years.

Bangalore: The Karnataka Government on Thursday said there was no proposal before it to increase the minimum age of drinking from the current 21 to 25 years on the lines of Maharashtra.

"There is no such proposal. Currently the age limit fixed for serving liquor to youths is 21 years in the state. It would continue. We have not thought of any change in this regard", State Excise Minister MP Renukacharya told reporters here while responding to a query.

Maharashtra recently increased the minimum age of drinking to 25 years, which has evoked sharp reactions from some quarters including Bollywood questioning the step.

Renukacharya said following the Karnataka High Court striking down provisions banning employing women in bars and restaurants few years ago, there existed no restriction on employing the fairer sex as bartenders in the state.

However, owners of such outlets have to comply with rules and regulations specified under the Excise Act, he said.

Of about 800-odd Bar and Restaurants in the city, only 48 have appointed women to serve liquor, he said and ruled out any confrontation with police in this regard.

"Excise department implements its rules and police their rules in case of violations", he said and sought to end the controversy of confrontation that has broken out in recent days between his department and police. Police had recently warned that they would ban employing women in bars and restaurants if they engaged in illegal activities.

He said despite a crackdown, at least 830 hooch manufacturing units carried on business illegally and government has directed its staff to eradicate the menace within two months.

Chloral Hydrate, a chemical compound used for mixing with toddy and illicit liquor has been entering the state from neighbouring Maharashtra, Goa and Andhra Pradesh, he said, adding, he would soon meet his counterparts in these states to seek their help in curbing the menace.


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