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Liquor to be costlier in Himachal
Cabinet approves ban on lotteries
Tribune News Service

Shimla, February 28
A marginal increase in excise duty on various brands of liquor, incentives for the export of liquor, relaxation in permit conditions for home-brewed liquor in the tribal areas and reduction in duty on ready-to-drink beverages are the highlights of the new excise policy which will fetch an additional revenue of Rs 35 crore to the state during 2004-05.

The policy was approved by the state Cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of Mr Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister, here today. Excise duty on cheap and regular brands has been increased from Rs 23 to Rs 27 per proof litre, for premium brands from Rs 31 to Rs 35 per proof litre and for deluxe brands from Rs 50 to Rs 53 per proof litre.

An incentive ranging from 5 paise to 10 paise per bottle will be provided for the export of various types of liquor from the state to encourage exports.

Duty on ready-to- serve beverages has been slashed by 50 per cent from Rs 40 to Rs 20 per proof litre. The policy also proposes to ban the sale of liquor in pouches, provided the neighbouring states also follow suit.

Eighty new liquor vends will be opened. While 14 vends will be closed down, another five will be shifted. No hike has been effected in the assessed fee on liquor sold to Army men and ex-servicemen through CSD canteens. The grant of permits to people in the tribal areas for the manufacture and consumption of local liquor has been made simpler. Instead of yearly permits people can now have five or 10 yearly permits and the permit fee will be Rs 250 and Rs 500, respectively.

The procedure to get permission to serve liquor in hotels and restaurants for special celebrations has been made simpler. The ban on drinking in public places will be observed strictly.

The Cabinet also decided to impose a ban on lotteries in the state.

It also approved the policy guidelines for the regulation and control of mining operations in and along the river beds to ensure that mining does not result in the degradation of the environment. The main objective of the policy is to ensure systematic and scientific mining. A district-level river bed mining action plan by the geological wing of the Industries Department will be prepared for the purpose. Only selected river beds will be put to auction on the basis of survey documents. To check and prevent illegal mining, HP minerals (prevention of illegal mineral transportation and storage) rules will be framed. The guidelines also provide for subdivisional-level flying squads, district and state-level committees for the regulation of mining and checking of illegal mining.

The Cabinet also decided to set up a subdivision of the Irrigation and Public Health Department at Raja ka Talab in Kangra district and sub-employment exchanges at Fatehpur in Kangra and Sujanpur in Hamirpur district.

It also approved the creation of the post of Tehsil Welfare Official at Fatehpur.


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