Starred hotels and bars in Uttar Pradesh will be allowed to serve liquor till early morning - a decision that the government say will help mop up additional revenue. The new policy is expected to be implemented in the next financial year that begins in April.
Currently, bars in Uttar Pradesh can serve alcohol till midnight and pay additional license fees to extend this timing by an hour. Similarly, starred hotels can serve liquor till midnight and extend the timings by an hour after paying additional fees.
"This duration has now been extended for both bars and hotels. Bars and hotels will both have to pay the government additional fees to extend their time slots - Rs 5 lakh for starred hotels to 4 am and Rs 2.5 lakh for bars to 2 am," said Sanjay Bhoosreddy, the officer in-charge of Uttar Pradesh's excise department.
Government sources say the move will help generate additional revenue for the state and will be implemented for now in the state's bigger cities like Lucknow, Kanpur, Meerut and Noida.
In a decision on Tuesday, the UP government had also decided that beer shops in the state would also be able to sell wines - something that was not allowed in UP earlier.
The Uttar Pradesh government also gave its nod to the state's 2020-21 excise policy, under which the licence fee for country-made liquor has been increased by 10 per cent, for beer by 15 per cent and for foreign liquor by 20 per cent.
"The government has made a simple and transparent excise policy. Renewal of licences will be done through e-lottery. Under the new policy, one person will be allowed to have only two shops in the state," Mr Bhoosreddy said.
"Licence fee will be charged to serve liquor in luxury trains and cruises within the state boundary, which was free earlier. Licences will be given to airport lounges and hotels located outside the airport where flight passengers stay," he added.
Bar codes will be put on all liquor bottles so that consumers can check whether the liquor is real or not, the UP government has said.
The government's move has drawn criticism from opposition parties, with the Shiv Sena's Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeting:
Oh no deva re deva???? look @ShelarAshish ji, @RajKPurohitBJP ji& @Dev_Fadnavis ji what's happening in BJP raj. Will your protest wagon, that we saw in Mumbai even without changing excise norms reach there or was spreading lies the only motive? Women safety etc not a concern in UP? https://t.co/sxFOBXWGsu— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) January 28, 2020
The BJP has attacked the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra over allowing shops, malls and restaurants to stay open all night in non-residential areas.
(With inputs from PTI)