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Closure of wine shops

Editor,

The State Government order to close all wine shops located 100 meters from the national highway, educational institutions, hospitals, places of worship, etc has come as a rude shock to wine store dealers. This is a business that provides livelihoods to many. It is learnt that the Supreme Court has only advised all the state governments to take the decision not to allow any wine shops near national highways and that they should be at a reasonable distance from the highways. But the question that now arises is, what is that reasonable distance? Is it 10 ft, 20ft or on the same wall” The actual distance is not specified.

It is also learnt that the Supreme Court has only suggested relocating of wine shops along the national highways. They have never mentioned educational institutions hospitals, places of worship, etc. This is an addition by the State Government. Before passing such arbitrary orders the Government should have realised that it will affect thousands of families and Government revenue. With this order, Government will lose over Rs 300 crore revenue and all the staff working in the shops will become jobless. There are many wine shops especially in Ri-Bhoi area and Garo Hills where the licensees have no other source of income except that of the wine shop and with that income they are running their families.

The state Government is already facing financial crunch after banning coal and limestone mining. The closure of liquor shops is an extra burden on the Government. From newspaper reports we learn that the Central Government has restricted the flow of funds to states. The Government owes about Rs. 400 crore to the contractors over and above the liability of paying off several other loans.

No other state government in India has passed any order for closing of wine shops as is done by the Meghalaya Government. Interestingly all the wine shops are licensed by the Government including those that have come up near educational institutions, hospitals and places of worship. In most cases the wine stores came up much before these institutions. So whose mistake is it? The Government which has given the license, the wine store owners or the institutions that decided to open shop near the existing wine stores?

This decision by the State Government will compound the unemployment problem which will precipitate many other social problems. It is surprising that a Government struggling to create livelihoods should take a decision which will have serious ramifications. Besides it is a decision which is not even mandated by the apex court. Before taking such a decision, the government should have assessed how many persons would become jobless and what alternative employment it can offer those working in wine stores.

Since the matter lies with the Government it is incumbent on them to reverse their decision and allow opening reopening of wine shops at the earliest. I also request the Government to come up with their views on the matter.

Yours etc.,

BK Khongsar

Via email

Commendable job MeECL

Editor,

I wish  to convey my gratitude to MeECL and the Area Manager of our area and others in the Department who have worked ceaselessly since the tornado struck parts of Shillong on April 5 and severely devastated several electric posts.  The MeECL technicians worked late into the night to restore electricity supply. To restore power within such a short period was beyond expectations considering the extensive damage but the MeECL did it. They deserve our collective applause for the effort put up by the linesmen, engineers and all on the job. I was very worried as our water supply is wholly dependent on electricity but hesitated to call the Area Manager to request for early restoration of power in our locality as that might disturb him and his team. However, considering the  gravity of the situation  I had to call him.  He received my call instantly and spoke courteously and also assured me that he would try his best to restore the power so that consumers do not suffer too much.  At 10 PM on April 6 after the power supply was restored the Area Manager informed me that it was done. MeECL keep it up; you have done a great job despite the massive challenges created by the storm.  My sincerest gratitude to you all!
Yours etc., .
N  Bhattacharjee
President,
R & R Colony Welfare Society.
Via email

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