In a bid to woo tourists, the government has decided to get a liquor shop opened at Srinagar International Airport in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, a media report said.
According to the Asia Times, the Airports Authority of India invited e-tenders in September – seeking bids from the potential players to run a duty-paid liquor shop at the airport – with the lowest bid of Rs 200,000 per month. October 16 was the deadline for the bidding.
Quoting official sources the report said that, around 50 firms have shown interest to run the venture at the airport that caters to some 20 flights or 3500 passengers a day. The outlet is scheduled to start operations from January 1, 2018. Director Srinagar airport Sharad Kumar, while confirming the development told Asia Times: “All the famous and good quality liquor brands will be available for sales.”
“We hope that by providing this facility we can attract more and more tourists. Otherwise, there are only a few liquor shops in Kashmir. But here it’ll be available in the safe and secure environment and will give a boost to tourism,” Kumar added.
He, however, clarified that no boozing would be allowed at the airport. “They can only buy it and carry it along but you cannot drink at the airport as it won’t be like a bar.”
According to the report, the entire Valley has only four liquor shops and dozen-odd bars limited to a few high-end hotels and golf courses. But the conservative forces including social and religious organizations have been fighting for a ban.
Some of the groups even moved court with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking a ban on liquor sales.
While the High Court had sought the state’s response in June 2016, the state government ruled-out a ban on sale and consumption of liquor. The state’s Finance Minister Dr Haseeb A Drabu said: “People should decide what they ought to do, we can’t force our will on them.”