GUWAHATI, July 23 � Concerns over the rapid spread of bars and wine shops across Guwahati and the rest of Assam are getting stronger with conscientious citizens urging the State Government to intervene.
In recent times, the licence for wine shops and bars have become relatively easy to acquire compared to earlier times. Consequently, these have sprung up in almost all localities of the city, sometimes not far from educational institutes. According to official sources, more licences may be approved by the end of this year.
Eminent Gandhian Natwar Thakkar, who has worked in the grassroots to empower the weaker sections, believes that the problem of widespread drinking that is already acute will worsen when more bars and wine shops start attracting customers.
�Personally, I would want bars and pubs to close down. But if that is not feasible, the Government should not allow more to come up,� he remarked. Favouring strong regulation of wine shops and bars, he said that these must be made off limits to minors.
The senior social worker supports a strategy to confront the spread of alcohol use, which would involve educating students from the primary school level upward. Making the young generation aware about the dangers of alcohol consumption would pay dividends in the times ahead, he mentioned.
A retired professor of Guwahati Medical College Hospital, who preferred anonymity, underlined the health hazards and social costs resulting from alcohol abuse. Various Indian states have regulated the sale of alcohol through different measures recognising this very problem. But, Assam is exceptional in being so liberal in doling out licences for liquor shops, she said.
Increase in alcohol consumption impacts not only on individuals but also on their families, finally affecting the social fabric. The connection between alcohol abuse and criminal incidents is also well established. The State Government, according to Thakkar should realise these facts before it is too late.