Liquor shops remain closed in Madhya Pradesh as contractors move HC

Despite the Madhya Pradesh government allowing reopening of booze shops from Tuesday, the outlets remained closed in the state with liquor contractors approaching the high court fearing potential loss of business in the coming days, mainly due to exclusion of bars and vends from the government order.
The government had on Monday ordered reopening of liquor and hemp (bhang) shops from Tuesday, excluding Bhopal, Indore and Ujjain falling under Red zone, after a gap of 40 days as per the relaxations allowed under the extended coronavirus-induced lockdown.
On the decision of the liquor contractors to not reopen the outlets, state Home and Health Minister Narottam Mishra said, “They (liquor contractors) should have honoured the government’s order”.
“If they had some grievances they should have come to the state government instead of approaching the court. If they have any issues the government will look into them, but they have to reopen (their shops). The government”s order should not be violated,” he said.
He said complaints of black marketing of liquor are being received by the government.
“All liquor shops in MP remained closed on Tuesday. A top government official told us in evening that our grievances will be looked into. We are yet to take a call (on the government”s appeal to open shops),” MP Liquor Association President Akhilesh Rai told PTI over phone from Sehore district.
Earlier in the day, the liquor contractors moved the HC fearing the potential loss of business in view of the state government’s order excluding bars and ”ahatas” (low budget drinking vends usually attached to liquor shops) from reopening and thinnng of business after initial euphoria of first few days.
They sought the HC”s directive to the government that their contracts be either reviewed or recalled in view of the “unstable” market condition caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, responding to a query, Mishra said the government had spoken with liquor retailers on Monday.
Liquor contractors had alleged that the government had issued the order on reopening of outlets before taking them into confidence.
They said that it was difficult to maintain social distancing at shops in the wake of rush in the initial two or three days.
Meanwhile, liquor consumers demanded that the booze outlets be reopened immediately.
“The government should come out with a planned strategy to get the liquor shops opened in the wake of coronavirus spread,” they added.