J-K wine traders raise concerns over draft excise policy

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Jammu, Mar 10 (PTI) A day after Jammu and Kashmir administration released the draft excise policy for 2021-22, Jammu Wine Traders Association (JWTA) on Wednesday raised concerns over the proposal to allot liquor vends through the e-auction process.

The association said the traders may lose their livelihood if not being able to compete in the e-auction process.

The policy, which was for the first time placed in the public domain before its issuance, envisages allotment of liquor shops to the residents of the Union Territory through e-auction. Any person who is eligible for grant of license as per the provisions of the excise act and rules will be eligible for participation in the e-auction process.

'We reject this policy which is meant for rich persons alone. None of us can afford to compete in the e-auction as we are small traders who earn their livelihood from this business for decades,' JWTA president Charanjeet Singh told reporters here.

Demanding continuation of the existing policy, he said 30,000 families are directly or indirectly involved in earning their livelihood from this business and most of the present licensees are widows, senior citizens and unemployed youth who have no other source of income.

As per the draft policy, the allotment of liquor vends through e-auction would be in a completely open and transparent manner in the same area where liquor shops already exist.

'The vends shall be allotted for a period of one year as per the provisions of the J&K Excise Act and Rules. The total number of shops to be allotted would be the same as existing at present and there would be no increase in the number of vends to be auctioned,' it said, adding only a single outlet will be allotted to one person.

'The rich people can bid a huge amount of money, which is required to run this business as per new draft policy, thus snatching livelihood from small traders and creating a liquor mafia,' Singh said.

Seeking the intervention of Union Minister Jitendra Singh and Lt Governor Manoj Sinha in addressing their concerns, the JWTA president said the government can issue new licenses in unserved and underserved areas while safeguarding their interests.

He said the liquor traders are working as revenue collecting agents of the government and fully abide by the rules and regulations.

'We started contributing Rs 2,500 monthly towards Social Responsibility Corpus fund after submitting a proposal to the then J&K government in 2015-16 and recommended the transfer of an amount of Rs three crore to J&K relief fund from it in March last year after realising the gravity of coronavirus pandemic,' he said, adding they have also donated 13 ambulances and relief items over the years. PTI TAS AB BAL BAL