AMARAVATI: Defending his government’s decision to hike the liquor prices in Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Tuesday categorically stated that his government is committed to total prohibition of alcohol across the state in a phased manner.
The chief minister said that his government’s price-hike decision was a conscious one, aimed at discouraging alcohol consumption and thus gradually bringing down the liquor sales in the state. Addressing a video-conference meeting with district collectors and superintendents of police, he spoke at length about the steps being taken to prohibit alcohol consumption in the state in phases.
YS Jagan warned of stern action against those who are found violating the state government rules by indulging in liquor smuggling and its illegal sale in the state.
The chief minister observed that newspapers and television news channels had been highlighting how liquor sales are taking place across the country post relaxation of lockdown rules. He said that his government’s initial decision to hike the prices by 25 per cent had little impact on liquor sales. And so, he has decided to effect a further increase of 50 per cent, which will make liquor more expensive by 75 per cent in Andhra Pradesh.
The AP CM said that as a first step towards a complete liquor prohibition in the state, his government had earlier reduced the number of bars by 20 per cent, “Now, we have also taken a decision to shut 13 percent of existing wine shops in the state by the end of this month. With this, the total of 33 percent of wine shops will get reduced in the state,” he said.
YS Jagan also sought to remind that the state government had already closed down about 43,000 belt shops and 20 percent of wine shops in one go soon after he came to power and even removed the private rooms in front of wine shops, which were thriving in the state under the previous rule of Chandrababu Naidu.
The State government has also taken control of the liquor shops and started state-owned liquor sales, said YS Jagan. As part of the government’s stricter norms, wine shops are permitted to operate from morning 12 am to 7 pm in the state.
The chief minister said that the 75-percent hike in liquor prices are effected in the larger interest of people’s health and well-being. The government is determined to contain liquor smuggling from AP to other states as well as illicit liquor production in the state. The Andhra Pradesh chief minister ordered the SPs to take the responsibility of containing illicit liquor sale in the state as the excise department alone cannot handle this mammoth task.