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Bold Move by Modi - Liquor to be available in SEZs - The business community welcomes the announcement.

Ahmedabad: Relaxing the prohibition law, Gujarat government on Saturday said liquor will be made available to the people living in Special Economic Zones (SEZ), who carry the required liquor card.

Over a dozen SEZ's are expected to come up in the next two years in Gujarat.

The liquor cards, with three-year validity period, will be issued for a fee of Rs 500 and will be bound by several conditions.

Issuing a General Rule in this regard the government said "in exercise of powers conferred by clause (e) read with clause (b) of sub-section (1) of section 139 of the Bombay Prohibition Act of 1949 the government hereby exempts persons residing in the area of the SEZ to whom the liquour card has been issued," an official release said here.

PTI quoted Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah as saying, "As all rules, regulations and laws within SEZs were different from that of the state it lies in, it is the same with the liquour issue".

Regarding law and order problems expected in future in connection with the exemption he said, "As the card is only to be used within the SEZ we don't see problems arising. However in case of smuggling the law will take its course."

According to the new plan, anyone above 21 years of age living in an SEZ will be entitled to get a 'liquor card' for three years for Rs 500 and 'group permit' will be granted to organisers of events for those coming from outside the state for Rs 5,000. The liquor card will be issued by the SEZ development committee on an application "for purchase, possession, use and consumption of foreign liquor".

SEZ liquor cards, however, will not allow drinking at 'ceremonial and other functions or any assembly of persons'.

The home department order also does not allow carrying liquor outside the SEZ limits.

For national and international conferences, business and academic meets, group permits will be issued to organisers by the superintendent of prohibition and excise in each district.

And, liquor will be 'served only to delegates, members or representatives participating in the event'. However, those classified as 'local person' defined as a 'person residing in the state of Gujarat,' will not be able to consume liquor in these conventions.

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