As the news broke in the evening, liquor vend operators began clearing stocks, loaded them in vehicles and took them away. (Picture for representation)
The Haryana government shut down liquor vends in the state from midnight due to "operational issues" after facing flak for keeping the outlets open despite a nationwide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to contain the spread of novel coronavirus.
"We have decided to close liquor vends in the state," Principal Secretary, Excise and Taxation Department Anurag Rastogi said.
He said the decision to close liquor vends was taken because of operational issues. Officials said it was becoming difficult to manage operations due to the lockdown.
"For example, one district says these could be opened between 12 pm to 3 pm, at other place timings were 12 to 5, and movement of supply was becoming difficult, that is supply from wholesale to retail," said Rastogi.
The decision was taken during a meeting Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala had with district food controller officers and district taxation officers through a video link.
As the news broke in the evening, liquor vend operators began clearing stocks, loaded them in vehicles and took them away.
In the past few days, the state government had faced much criticism for keeping liquor vends open while many struggled to procure essential commodities during the lockdown period. During his digital press conference Tuesday, Khattar had, while justifying his government’s decision to keep liquor vends open, said, “Shutting the liquor vends will have repercussions (dushprabhav). Thus, the government was ensuring that if people want to come to the vend and make purchase, they can do so but crowd formation at such vends should be avoided”.
On Thursday, Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala slammed the BJP-JJP government for not shutting down the outlets. "When the entire nation is fighting a war to check spread of coronavirus, liquor vends have been kept open in Haryana, which is unfortunate," Surjewala said.
He asked whether medicines or liquor was the priority of the government during the lockdown.
Meanwhile, the Harana government also put on hold the auction of liquor vends for the next financial year.
The entire Haryana went into lockdown on Tuesday, before whole of the country. The Haryana government had initially ordered a lockdown in Gurugram, Faridabad, Sonipat, Panipat, Jhajjar, Rohtak and Panchkula districts till March 31 but later decided to extend the measure to the entire state.
However, all essential and emergency services are exempted, officials said.
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