Director says proposal put on hold for an indefinite period
Srinagar: The PDP-BJP government had granted permission for the controversial liquor shop at Srinagar Airport even before tenders were invited, airport director Sharad Kumar told Kashmir Reader.
The opening of the shop, which was aimed at providing tourism a “boost” after low tourist arrivals since last year, has been put on hold for an indefinite period, Kumar said.
“State government had given the permission for setting up the shop. The bidding process had begun. It was in the last stages, but it is unlikely that the facility will be available now,” he said, adding that the decision to put it on hold was taken a week ago.
Previously, Kumar had been quoted by Asia Times as saying that the facility would serve branded liquor “in safe and secure environment”.
The opening of the shop raised a hue and cry in the Valley with netizens denouncing on social media the government’s decision to allow the shop in Muslim-majority region. At present, there are a few liquor shops operating within fortified places in the Valley, although last year a religious organisation moved a petition in court demanding their blanket ban. However the state government refused to do so because the shops contribute sizeable revenue to the state exchequer.
Kumar told Kashmir Reader that the idea of opening a liquor shop at the airport was part of a proposal to set up the same at India’s 15 major airports. The decision to open the shop was taken by the government of India in February 2016.
“In February this year, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had decided to start the facility at 15 big airports. Setting up of the same was in connection to that and not specifically meant for Srinagar,” said Kumar.
In September this year, the AAI invited tenders to set up the shop at a 40 sq mtr space at the domestic arrival hall in New Integrated Terminal Building. Kumar said passengers would not have been allowed to consume alcohol there; instead flyers would have had to take it along with them.
As per the tenders issued by the AAI, anyone who won the tender would have to pay a minimum of Rs 2,00,000 a month in addition to Rs 1,013 per sq mtr. Kumar said that the distribution of revenue generated between AAI and the state government was yet to be figured out.
“If people don’t want it, we will honour the sensitivity of people. We are not to create a resentment but love. We want to serve them,” Kumar added.