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Liquor store closure in Meghalaya to be sorted

By Raju Das

SHILLONG, June 12 - The Meghalaya Cabinet would revisit an order barring liquor stores to do business close to places of worship, educational institutions, hospitals and National Highways.

In compliance with the order, most liquor stores and bars have closed down in the State Capital for the past one month. The closure has hit badly the Excise department which is the third highest revenue earner of the State.

Excise Minister Zenith Sangma said the �department is fine tuning the present order� so that both socio-economic interests could be taken care of. �The department is re-drafting the order and once done it would be taken to the Cabinet for approval, Sangma said adding, the department wants that interest of the store owners are also kept under consideration.

�It is not a permanent closure and the issue would be sorted out soon,� he stated. There are 106 liquor stores and 31 bars in the State Capital alone and most have closed down.

Under the order, no bar or liquor shop can be established within 100 metres distance from the �mid-point� of National Highways. Such business houses cannot be set up 50 metres from mid-point of State and NHs running through the city.

Moreover, no bars or liquor shops can be established within a distance of 200 metres from educational institutions, places of worship or hospitals.

Sangma said tricky issues such as �who-came-first� would be addressed in the new order. �If a liquor store was established before a hospital, educational institutions or place of worship, it should have the right to continue with its business.�

Meanwhile, Sangma said the department has not yet assessed the loss due to the closure of the liquor shops in the State Capital and elsewhere around the State.

�The Excise department�s earning is about Rs 160 crore, however, we are yet to assess the loss due to the closure,� he added.

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