Reduce Legal Drinking To 21 Yrs Hoteliers Urg UT

Courtesy: Rajinder Nagarkoti | News Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Chandigarh: The representatives of Chandigarh hospitality association have urged the UT excise and taxation department to reduce alcohol consumption age in Chandigarh from 25 to 21 years for the next financial year.

The hoteliers also demanded to extend open bar timings in the city from 1am to 2am. The excise and taxation department on August 2 last year had suspended the liquor licence of a club in Industrial Area, Phase 1, for keeping the premises and bar open after 1am.

The department had sought suggestions from hoteliers and wine merchants’ body before finalising the excise policy. In the meeting with UT deputy commissioner Mandip Brar on Monday, the hoteliers submitted these suggestions.

The hospitality body has submitted that when the Constitution provides 18 years old person the right to vote and drive then the choice to drink responsibly should also be with the adult. The association demanded that the legal drinking age should be reduced from 25 years to 21 years, which will also boost the city’s tourism.

As per the Punjab Excise Act, 1915, Section 23, the legal age to consuming alcohol in Chandigarh is 25 years. Last year, the UT had even conducted raids at hotels and had slapped fines on those found serving liquor to customers below the age of 25 years.

Presently, a majority of hotels, restaurants and bars, do not ask youngsters about their age before serving them liquor. On October 1 last year, the excise and taxation department had slapped Rs 1 lakh fine on a club at Elante Mall for serving liquor to underage customers.

As per the fiscal excise policy for 2019-20, which was released on March 8 last year, the prices of premium brands of whiskey had increased by 20 to 25% in Chandigarh. While the rates of beer and wine remained unchanged, the prices of beer at microbreweries were slashed.

The UT had aimed that the excise policy would help the administration earn approximately Rs 600 crore in the form of revenue in comparison to Rs 510 crore earned in 2018-19 fiscal.

According to the policy, there is a penalty for selling liquor below minimum rates fixed by the UT administration. The first offence brings a fine of Rs 1 lakh and second Rs 2 lakh . The violation can further lead to sealing of the defaulting liquor vend.

‘CCTV must for curbing sale to underage’

City-based activist Ajay Jagga also submitted his suggestions to the department including that alcometers for voluntary assessment of alcohol level by consumers should be made mandatory for all taverns besides bars and restaurants. He suggested that the CCTV cameras should surveil the entire liquor shop, especially counters of sale, so that sale of liquor to juveniles could be monitored. He added that liquor shops and bars should be at least 200 metres away from educational institutions and places of worship. Presently, this range is 50 metres, which is too less and promotes indirect liquor sale to students, he stated.

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