New Delhi, July 11: United Breweries Group chairman Vijay Mallya came face to face with the Gujarat government on Saturday over prohibition on liquor in the state. Mallya asked state Chief Minister Narendra Modi to lift the ban, saying the hooch tragedies take place even in the states where there is no ban on liquor.
Mallya held liquor smuggling responsible for the hooch tragedy in Ahmedabad which has resulted in the death of 136 people so far while around 300 have been hospitalised.
"Chief Minister Narendra Modi knows fully well that every
brand of alcohol is available in the state of Gujarat at two
or three times the price charged in neighbouring states. This
means that the government of Gujarat is losing thousands of
crores in potential revenue." he said.
Mallya further reasoned that all the liquor brands are available illegally in the state of Gujarat though at a much higher price as compared to its neighbouring states. He called for lifting of liquor ban, saying such a measure cannot be enforced.
"The UB Group stands ready to work with the Government of
Gujarat to introduce a responsible beverage consumption policy
with appropriate warning and restraint," the UB Group Chairman
said in a statement.
The state government reacted angrily to Mallya’s comments and called him selfish who was thinking of his business at this point of time.
"Unilateral assessment that the prohibition policy of the
state was responsible for the tragedy from the largest
producer of liquor who has vested interest in the business is
unfortunate," Gujarat Government Spokesperson and Health
Minister Jaynarayan Vyas said.
The fact is states like Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra
and Delhi, who do not practice prohibition policy, have seen
even larger hooch-related tragedies, he said.
"The issue cannot be solely ascribed to prohibition
policy or lethargy of police. It has far more complicated
causes like deprivation due to poverty, reckless urbanisation
and frustration among the poor," Vyas said, adding, "I think
that Mr Mallya would not know anything about poverty as he
himself has not experienced such a thing."
"The statement is unfortunate and comes at a wrong time,"