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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Bhubaneswar: The Opposition in Odisha have come down heavily on the state government for its move to relax selling hours for Indian-Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) ON shops and bars in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Puri on New Year eve.

Union Minister and BJP's Balasore MP Pratap Sarangi slammed the state government and said, “It’s a blunder and the results would be catastrophic.”

“There are illegal liquor shops all over the state. Licensed liquor shops have come up near schools, colleges and temples. State government should bring stringent laws to curb this liquor menace,” added Sarangi.

He went on to suggest, “If the government can’t shut it all at once, they can gradually tighten the norms to completely close them over time.”

Congress MLA Santosh Singh Saluja demanded arrest of the concerned officials who issued the orders to sell liquor till 1AM on New Year. Accusing the government of aiding alcoholism, Saluja said, “We will hold the government responsible for all the road accidents that would happen because of drunken driving on that night.”

Terming the decision as an ill-planned revenue generating mechanism, Saluja further said, “The state government is cash strapped owing to its extravagant expenditures. The decision to sell liquor till 1AM is nothing but a revenue generation idea.”

Meanwhile, Odisha Excise Minister, Niranjan Pujari said “It’s only for one night.”

Earlier yesterday, the Excise Department had relaxed the liquor selling hours for IMFL ON shops and bars operating in Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, Cuttack Municipal Corporation and Puri Municipality areas on December 31, 2019 (New Year Eve) up to 1:00 AM of 01.01.2020.

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