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Coronavirus crisis: MP govt steps in to run liquor shops amid clash with contractors

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Bhopal, June 10: Madhya Pradesh government on Tuesday began the preparations to run liquor shops whose licences were surrendered by contractors amid a standoff between the two sides on reopening the vends.

liquor

It is reportedly said that about 70 per cent of contractors have surrendered their licences. The contractors have refused to open their liquor vends for well over two weeks due to poor sale owing to the economic slowdown caused by the novel coronavirus. This had put them on a collision course with the BJP government in the state.

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Now, the state government has decided to run more than 1,000 liquor shops across the state till it finds new contractors in the rebidding process.

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    Earlier, the Madhya Pradesh high court's Jabalpur bench said that those who want to run the shops as per the state government's rules should file an affidavit within three days. This allowed the Madhya Pradesh government to go for rebidding of the remaining shops.

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    In his letter to Director General of Home Guard, excise commissioner Rajiv Chandra Dubey said, "Execution of the (bidding) process after closure of liquor shops is expected to take 15 to 30 days. In the circumstances the department will have to run more than 1,000 liquor shops. The department does not have sufficient staff to run such a big number of shops. At the same time, the department has to take action to control (sale of) illicit liquor too."

    The places where liquor contractors surrendered their licences also includes major cities like Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur and Gwalior.

    In Bhopal, district collector Tarun Kumar Pithode on Tuesday issued an order for 32 shops which make country made liquor and Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) to run.

    Speaking to reporters, Dubey said, "The process to run the shops has begun and these will be reopened by Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning."

    The excise commissioner said that safety norms at the shops like social distancing and sanitisation would be ensured.

    Liquor shops opened in the state on May 7 after 45 days, but since the state government did not concede to the contractors' demands to reduce the licence fee, about 30 contractors moved the high court.

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