Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh): Andhra Pradesh government has announced a new Bar Policy for the state, which will come into existence from January 1, 2020. According to the new policy, the application fee for the bar licence will be fixed at Rs 10 lakh which would be non-refundable.

According to the Government Order, Article 47 of the Constitution of India enjoins that the state shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption, except for medicinal purposes, of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health. In compliance with Constitutional obligations, the government has taken a policy decision to implement prohibition in a phased manner and regarded it as one of the top priority policies of the government.

The Andhra Pradesh State Beverages Corporation Ltd (APSBCL) has been granted an exclusive privilege to run the (3500) retail liquor shops from October 2019, and the business hours of retail liquor shops run by APSBCL have been reduced - 11 AM to 8 PM.

"There is an imperative need to further reduce the availability of liquor so as to avoid road accidents due to drunken drive, domestic violence, crime and other social evils caused under the influence of alcohol. It is also felt that such curtailment of availability of liquor would save the poorer sections from getting financially ruined," the state government said in the order.

"In furtherance of the government's avowed policy of implementing prohibition in a phased manner, the existing Bar policy has been reviewed and it is decided, among other things, to reduce the number of Bars, increase the licence fee and reduce the business hours of Bars with a view to further curtail the availability of alcoholic beverages to the general public," the government added.

Commissioner of Prohibition and Excise Department shall fix the number of bars in each of the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), municipal corporation, municipality and Nagar Panchayat, duly reducing the existing number of vars by 40%. In case there is only one existing bar in the ULB, the number will be retained.

Furthermore, the state government directed that while fixing the number of bars as above, the number of bars in respect of 3-Star and above hotels and micro breweries existing in the ULB shall be excluded from the existing number of bars and the remaining number of bars only shall be reduced by 40%.

The licence would be valid for only two years, from January 2019 to December 2021. Moreover, in case there is more than one application received for a bar notified, selection of applicants for grant of Bar licence will be by draw of lots by the district collector.

"The selected applicant is permitted to establish the bar anywhere in the municipal corporation including its 5 KM area from the periphery (within the Revenue District) or in the municipality including its 2 KM area from the periphery (within the Revenue District) or in the Nagar Panchayat, as the case may be, subject to such restrictions as may be imposed," the state government said.

The licence fee and the non-refundable registration charge per annum for the bars other than 3-Star and above hotels and micro breweries, bars with population up to 50,000 the total fee will be Rs 25 lakh. Fee for the bars with a population above 5,00,000, would be Rs 75 lakh.

"The business hours shall be from 11 AM to 10 PM in respect of Bars other than 3-Star and above hotels and food supply up to 11 PM. For star hotels, the business hours shall be from 11 AM to 11 PM and food supply up to 12 midnight," the order read.