Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Amid senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Uma Bharti's demand for a "controlled liquor policy", the Madhya Pradesh government has set up a cabinet committee to submit recommendations on a new framework for the sector, an official said on Saturday.
A new policy was supposed to be announced on January 31 but got delayed, apparently due to Bharti's demands, including closure of 'ahatas' (area for drinking attached to a liquor shop) and ban on liquor shops in a one-kilometre radius around schools and some other establishments, sources said.
Principal Secretary of Commercial Tax Department will be the secretary of the cabinet committee
The committee, which will make recommendations for the excise policy for the fiscal 2023-24, has Home Minister Narottam Mishra, Forest Minister Vijay Shah, Finance and Excise Minister Jagdish Devda, Urban Development Bhupendra Singh and Health Minister Prabhuram Choudhary as members, while the principal secretary of the Commercial Tax Department will be its secretary.
Bharti has been campaigning against liquor consumption and has asked the BJP government of Shivraj Singh Chouhan not to cash in on the drinking habit of people through a liberal excise regime.
Bharti had stayed in a temple in Bhopal for fours days last month and had told reporters at the time that she was waiting for the new excise policy incorporating her suggestions, as promised to her by the chief minister.
Madhusala Mein Gaushala, announced Uma Bharti
She had ended her temple stay on January 31 as the policy was not announced, after which she announced the launch of the 'madhushala mein gaushala' (cowshed in liquor vend) programme.
She tied two cows in front of a liquor shop in Orchha town in Nihari district, which is famous for its temples and palaces, and exhorted people to drink milk and not alcohol.
She had also earlier thrown dung at this shop in protest against the sale of liquor.
Bharti, who started her campaign with the demand for total prohibition, has now been asking for regularisation of sale in the state, where Assembly polls are due by the end of the year.
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