Lowering legal drinking age in Delhi will turn it into 'capital of intoxicants', says opposition

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New Delhi, Mar 22 (PTI) The Opposition on Monday hit out at the AAP government for lowering the legal drinking age in Delhi from 25 to 21 years, claiming the new excise policy will make the city the 'capital of intoxicants'.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has stressed that the excise reforms announced by his government will act as a major blow to liquor mafia, who will do everything to obstruct these steps.

Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta said he and his party leaders will meet Lt Governor Anil Baijal on Tuesday in protest the new excise policy.

'The new policy will not only lead to (sale of) spurious liquor and promote crime but will also spoil youngsters as the legal age for drinking has been lowered from 25 to 21 years.

'The right thing would have been for the government to tighten liquor policy to make Delhi safe for women and keep youngsters away from the liquor,' Gupta said in a statement.

He claimed the move would also lead to increase in domestic violence.

'While the Kejriwal government is looking at an expected hike of at least 20 per cent in its annual excise revenue with these so-called reforms, it is really baffling that it is not looking at the social aspect of the move,' the statement quoted Gupta as saying.

On his part, Congress president Anil Kumar claimed that the move to privatise liquor vends will open the doors for 'spurious liquor' in the national capital.

'With the Arvind government's decision to lower the drinking age from 25 to 21, and to privatise all liquor vends, Delhi is heading towards becoming 'nashe ki rajdhani (capital of intoxicants),' Kumar said.

Lowering legal drinking age to 21 from 25 years and the government withdrawing from running liquor vends in Delhi are among the main features of an excise policy approved by the AAP dispensation on Monday, with Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia saying the measure is expected to lead to an annual revenue growth of 20 per cent.

The government decided to shut all its shops in the national capital as they were generating less income in comparison to private liquor stores. Currently, 40 per cent of around 850 establishments in the national capital are privately run.

According to the government, state-run vends were indulging in 'brand pushing' and there were also instances of revenue leakage.

At a press conference, Sisodia said the new measure will put an end to the liquor buying experience from a 'jail-like setup' at state-run shops. Private liquor shops being allowed should have a minimum area of 500 square feet. PTI BUN BUN NSD NSD