Liquor to flow till midnight...

| 20 March 2002 22:06 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party government here has now further relaxed timing of liquor bars till 11.30 pm, while also permitting to keep the restaurants open till 12 midnight.

The issue came up for reconsideration as the local excise authorities were forcibly shutting down all the bar and restaurants by 11 pm, no matter whether they served liquor beyond the prescribed timing or not.

Till date, Goa had officially banned serving of liquor beyond 11 pm. This had led to either officially closing down the liquor outlets or allowing it unofficially for a consideration, thanks to the corrupt excise officials.

Since the hotel owners were losing on it either way while the tourism season was slack this year due to recession and post-11 September crisis, a plea was made to relax the timing further. As most of the restaurants here also have bars, the compulsory closure at 11 pm had affected the industry severely.

"The new relaxation will be a little respite for us at least for the next two months", said Prakash Naik, president of the Goa Hotel and Restaurant Owners' Association, while making the announcement in this regard.

"I have no objection if the customer sits with a glass even beyond 11.30 pm, but no bar - serving the liquor - should be kept open beyond prescribed hours", quipped chief minister Manohar Parrikar. He has assured to brief the excise officials accordingly.

The relaxed rules may not benefit the tourism industry in a big way since the prime season is almost over. But with the Assembly election fever gripping the tourist state, it will definitely benefit those large number of politicians who exploit 'liquor power', besides money and muscle power, to woo the young workers and voters.

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