Srinagar: Following widespread outrage over the proposal to open a liquor shop at Srinagar Airport, the excise department on Thursday refused to grant it permission, prompting the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to cancel the tendering process.
The AAI had floated tenders for the liquor shop, which would have served “branded liquor” to flyers in an effort at promoting tourism. In Muslim-majority Kashmir, however, people protested against it, prompting the government to, through the excise department, cancel the “permission” it had otherwise granted.
In a letter to the AAI director, the excise department stated that no permission shall be granted for the opening of the liquor shop at the Airport.
“…you have been intimated that the J&K Excise Department shall not grant liquor license for opening liquor shop/ vend at the Srinagar International Airport in violation to the provisions of J&K Excise Act, 1958, and liquor license and state rules, 1984.
“It is further intimated that opening of liquor vend or shop at the airport Srinagar will not be allowed/permitted. As such you may stop the process for any such proposal as the excise department will not grant the license required for opening of liquor vend/shop at International Airport Srinagar”, it said.
Following this, the AAI said that “honouring” local sentiments, the tender process for the opening of the liquor shop has been cancelled.
“It is observed through media/social media that a section of society is against having duty-paid liquor shop at Srinagar International Airport, and honouring local sentiments, Airports Authority of India has decided to cancel the tender process of duty-paid liquor shop with immediate effect,” said the AAI statement released here.
“AAI believes and works towards better facilities for its passengers and endeavours to cater for more and more passenger-friendly, good initiatives towards customer satisfaction.
“It is hoped that with this communication, all controversies arising will be placed at rest,” it added.
People had expressed anger on social media, stating that the opening of a liquor shop in the airport named after Kashmiri saint Sheikh-ul-Alam is demeaning and disrespectful to him.
The decision to set up the liquor shop at the airport was part of the government of India’s plan to have such vends at all 15 major airports in India. “It will help us (the state) attract tourists. They would face difficulty in getting it (liquor) here, but now they can buy it here on arrival and consume it at their places,” AAI officials had earlier stated.
Jammu and Kashmir has 223 liquor vends, as per official data, among which seven vends – four wine shops and three bars in hotels and restaurants – are in Srinagar’s fortified zones while the rest are all in Jammu province.