The Telangana government has made it tougher for youths below 21 years of age to consume liquor in pubs, bars and restaurants in Hyderabad. All restaurants will now be required to ask the youths to produce original documents for age proof like a driving licence or the 10th board exams certificate before they order alcohol. This is a part of the drive of the excise and prohibition department to curb drunkenness among underage persons.
The drive also includes measures like fixing of CCTV cameras in and outside the bars and pubs and arranging breath analysers inside restaurants so that customers would know their drunken status. A ban on special discounts aimed at sale of liquor during the daytime and early hours after midnight has also been envisaged.
The drive is the result of a recent public outcry against a road accident in the heart of the city at Punjagutta where a 10-year-old girl, P. Ramya died, after a car in which she along with her family members were travelling was hit by another speeding car across the road divider. The driver of the car and the other youths accompanying him, all engineering students below 21 years of age, were excessively drunk.
The youth were found to have consumed liquor in a nearby bar which offered 30% discounts on liquor sales during Happy Hours, from afternoon to 6 pm. The accident occurred on 1 July and the girl died on 10 July after battling for life on ventilator. Hundreds of people at different places in the city and outside held a candlelight vigil for her, accusing the government of laxity.
Under pressure from the public, which said that the accident was the result of the TRS government’s policy of encouraging bars and pubs to sell liquor to the youth including minors, the excise department swung into action and started to implement the rules.
As per the Excise Act, liquor cannot be sold or served at public places to persons aged below 21 years. Those who violate the rule are liable to be prosecuted, but the rule was never taken seriously all these years as the liquor outlets are focused on increasing their sales and the government too wanted to increase its revenues.
As per the Excise Act, liquor cannot be sold or served at public places to persons aged below 21 years. Those who violate the rule are liable to be prosecuted, but the rule was never taken seriously all these years as the liquor outlets are focused on increasing their sales and the government too ignored this as it wanted to increase its revenues. There are around 400 bars and pubs inside the limits of the city. Close to 30,000 youth regularly frequent these waterholes on any given day and the number jumps up on weekends.
Telangana Excise and Prohibition Commissioner R.V. Chandravadan, who chaired a meeting with bars and pubs owners on Friday, told The Sunday Guardian that there was an urgent need to discourage minors and college students from partying in pubs during day time. During recent raids on the bars, it was found that even some schoolchildren were holding freshers’ parties in pubs.
In the last five days, the excise department has issued notices to five pubs for entertaining minors. It has issued a warning to all pub owners that they should not woo the youth and students with attractive discount offers, like “Happy Hours” and “After Hours”.
The owners of pubs and bars are willing to cooperate with the government in the drive, but have sought some assistance from it in doing away with the discounts. “We are forced to attract more customers, thanks to the enhanced licence fee imposed by the government. If the government is ready to slash fees marginally, we will be happy,” said a representative of the owners.