Wednesday, March 15, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Liquor syndicate smashed
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, March 14 — Punjab’s most powerful liquor syndicate which monopolised almost the entire liquor trade in Ludhiana last year was smashed today at the annual auction of the liquor vends in the district conducted under a new excise policy framed by the state government.

Under the new policy, the liquor contractors bid according to the groups fixed by the Excise Department which had instructions not to allow any group to exceed a Rs 15-crore ceiling.

The entire district was divided into 29 liquor groups of which 23 were auctioned for a total of Rs 155 crore as against Rs 134.80 crore fetched by them last year. This represented an increase of about 12.18 per cent in the excise revenue.

The six districts which could not be auctioned included Jagraon, Mullanpur and Raikot besides three localities in Ludhiana city. These would now be allotted through negotiations. The department was confident of collecting about Rs 225 crore this year.

Last year, the entire Ludhiana district was auctioned for a total of Rs 200 crore, most of which was cornered by a liquor cartel headed by an influential politician and his family, leading to protests from others.

Today’s auction which was videotaped was conducted by Mr Ravinder Sharma, Divisional Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Patiala, and was supervised among others by Mr Sarbjit Singh, Additional Excise and Taxation Commissioner.

The Minister for Excise, Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, who has been camping here since yesterday to oversee arrangements for the liquor auction told mediamen that the new excise policy had achieved its objective of ending the monopoly of any group in the liquor trade.

He said the government’s attempt was not only to collect higher revenue but also to ensure supply of good quality liquor at affordable price. Availability of cheaper liquor would also eliminate bootlegging and smuggling of liquor.

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