Jammu: In the aftermath of the “closure” of liquor bars on the “verbal” directions of the Jammu and Kashmir Excise Department seeking renewal of license by the operators have rendered several people ‘jobless’ across the Union Territory, it was reported here on Sunday.
J&K Excise Department has asked all bar operators to get their licenses renewed by submitting nearly 20 ‘No Objection Certificates (NOCs) to be issued by the various government departments for submitting it to the Jammu and Kashmir Excise Department.
Almost after a gap of two months when the government e-auctioned wine shops, the liquor bars across the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir on September 1 were briefly closed after the Excise Department sought renewal of licenses by submission of ‘No Objection Certificate’ from the more than 20 departments.
Around 250 liquor bars are operating in private hotels, clubs and government-run outlets across Jammu and Kashmir.
The Excise Department has asked the respective Deputy Commissioners (District Magistrates) to initiate the process asking the bar operators to suspend the operation and get the license renewed after getting the requisite NOCs from the various departments.
Apart from upsetting the hoteliers and bar operators, many people, mostly youth have been rendered ‘jobless’, who were directly or indirectly part of the business.
Waiters, barmen, bartenders, managers, are among the worst affected due to the closure of the bars.
“Earlier due to COVID pandemic lockdown was imposed and the entire business came to a standstill but with unlocking, life had partially returned on track,” Rakesh Sharma, a barman at one of the hotels in Jammu City told UNI.
Hailing from Ramnagar, he expressed that the decision to close the bars has left many like him ‘jobless’ after they were already having a hand-to-mouth existence due to the pandemic.
“We are not sure when the bars will be allowed to reopen but we have been left with no other options than to leave for our hometown,” said the barman.
Madan Kumar, a cook at one of the prominent clubs of Jammu, said, “due to the closure of the bar, the sale has drastically come down because very few members are visiting the restaurant and ordering for food.”
If the bar does not resume operations in a few days, he will also leave for his home at Billawar in Kathua, he said.
“Jammu and Kashmir is a tourist state (now UT), and the government is also beating drums of boosting tourism to attract tourists from across the country but the decision of shutting down the bars for long is not in favour of the tourism industry,” said a hotelier.
He said that many tourists prefer booze especially those coming for leisure tourism and if this goes on for long, tourism will be adversely affected especially when the tourism season is about to turn the corner.
Another hotelier said, “the government had recently ordered to do away with a lot of Non-Objection Certificate (NoCs) for ease of doing business (EODB) but many departments are unnecessarily creating hurdles and delaying the process.”
To push the service sector so that more youth can enter and set up businesses, the government is also including many service sectors, he said adding, “government must ease the process of obtaining NOCs on priority and make the liquor bars operational at the earliest because it is also causing losses worth crores to the state exchequer.”
“Already due to e-auctioning of wine shops earlier, the Jammu traders have been hit badly. This step perhaps will also affect the economy,” said a liquor trader, adding that they are making efforts to reach the government representatives for deliberations.