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CSD rates take fizz out of veterans’ tipple in Punjab

May 22, 2018 06:16 AM


CSD rates take fizz out of veterans’ tipple in Punjab


Ex-servicemen had backed Captain Amarinder Singh in large numbers during last year’s assembly election in Punjab. And now that Amarinder has become chief minister, they are asking for their pound of flesh. The veterans want Punjab to reduce tax on liquor sold from the military’s CSD canteens and bring it on a par with neighbouring Chandigarh and Haryana, “to keep the morale of his brethren community high”.

Thanks to the new excise policy of 2018-19, liquor rates at CSD outlets in Punjab have jumped 40% compared to Chandigarh and Haryana. For instance, a bottle of whisky costing Rs 284 in Chandigarh, is priced at Rs 505 in Punjab. Scotch is sold at Rs 562 in Chandigarh but costs Rs 811 in Mohali. In fact, Haryana charges just Rs 64 for a beer bottle in its canteens but it is priced at Rs 94 in Punjab.

What hurts more are new directions which say that an ex-serviceman of Punjab can’t get liquor from canteens in Chandigarh and Haryana.

Veterans remind CM of poll promise of reducing rates

The ESM (ex-serviceman) fraternity had worked hard to fulfill your wish to become Punjab CM,” says an emotional representation sent to the chief minister through his chief adviser, Lt Gen T S Shergil. “To live up to your ESM brethren’s expectations, you have also started working for them from the day one. However, the rates of liquor in CSD canteens were highest in Punjab in December 2017 and we had requested you to reduce the same in the new excise policy. Not only has our request has fallen flat in your Darbar, but ESM community has also been further penalized.”

The veterans have also reminded Amarinder of his election promise to reduce taxes on CSD items and how he had reduced the rates in his earlier term as chief minister between 2002 and 2007.

Some 10,000 members of defence fraternity are settled in Mohali, Zirakpur and adjoining areas of Punjab around Chandigarh. Punjab has around three lakh military veterans. Besides, there are 21 large cantonments where serving soldiers are entitled to get liquor from CSD canteens.

Lt Col S S Sohi, president of the ex-servicemen grievances cell at Mohali says, “It is humiliating when Chandigarh and Haryana CSD staff tell ex-servicemen from Punjab to go to their own state canteens to buy liquor. These are small privileges attached to veterans for the sacrifices they had made in their life for the country. Captain being a veteran should understand their sacrifices and problems and address this issue.”

Brigadier J S Arora, director (Sainik Welfare) Punjab, says the chief minister has been informed about the issue. “It is being pursued seriously for an early decision,” he said.


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