Punjab Minister Harpal Singh Cheema on Sunday said that the excise department carried out a state-wide checking of the liquor bars and penalised the violators. The operation code-named “night sweep” was carried out on Saturday night.
The Finance, Planning, Excise and Taxation minister said that during this operation, the compliance of various laws by bars, pubs and restaurants of Mohali, Jalandhar and Amritsar area were also checked by the teams during night time and on-the-spot action was taken against the violators as per law.
Cheema, in an official statement, said that this special drive was launched to check illegal activities in the bars, including serving 'Hookahs'. He said that more than 13 teams swung into action under the direct supervision of Financial Commissioner, Taxation, Vikas Partap and Excise Commissioner Varun Roojam.
Giving details of the operation, Cheema said that in Mohali district's Nayagaon area, a restaurant was found serving hookahs to its customers along with beer, which was meant for sale in Chandigarh only, thereby violating various provisions of the law.
During a search of the restaurant, 20 hookahs, 7 bottles of beer, various tobacco flavours and charcoal were confiscated. “The charcoal used in the hookahs produces smoke that contains not only carbon monoxide but also other cancer-causing chemicals and metals. The water used for filtering the smoke is not able to arrest these hazardous chemicals,” the minister said.
“The sharing of the same device among multiple smokers increases the risk of transmitting various infectious diseases,” he said. A case has been registered against the owners of the restaurant under various provisions of the Punjab Excise Act 1914, the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003, Poison Act 1919 and under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code at Police Station Nayagaon, Mohali, Cheema said.
In addition, three bars inside a shopping mall in Mohali were found carrying out their operations beyond the permitted timings following which actions were taken against them. Cheema said that in Amritsar a bar was found operating beyond the permitted time limit and was also serving liquor to people below the age of 25 years. During the search of the bar, 17 bottles of non-duty-paid liquor and 5 bottles of expired beer were also found which were confiscated on the spot.
In Jalandhar, a bar was found operating beyond the permitted time limit. Three bottles of expired beer were confiscated from there. Cheema said in this operation of the excise department, the health department officials were also roped in.