The new year has brought some good news to alcohol consumers and sellers in rural Maharashtra, as the State government has decided to allow liquor shops under gram panchayats to renew licences, a procedure that was on hold since April 2017. As per a government circular issued on January 1 and a letter sent by the State Excise Commissioner to all district collectors, except for the dry districts of Wardha, Chandrapur and Gadchiroli, the licences can be renewed in any gram panchayat which fulfils at least one of two criteria. The first is that the population under the gram panchayat should be at least 3,000 as per the 2011 census. Alternatively, the area should be located within 3 km of the limits of a municipal corporation or within a kilometre of a municipal council or municipal panchayat. According to a government official, the decision will benefit 1,500 permit rooms, and 400 country liquor and 700 beer shops. As per a Supreme Court decision of December 2016, wine shops and permit rooms within 500 m of highways were stopped from selling alcohol. Later, the move was amended to exclude highways within city limits.“A number of licence holders who still could not get their permits renewed had approached the Bombay High Court through writ petitions. In May 2018, the court directed the State government to hold hearings of these cases. Following the hearing, the government has decided to allow renewal of licences,” an official from the Excise Department said.
The India-England WC match has been shifted as Eden Gardens couldn’t meet the ICC deadline.It was January 5, 1934, when Eden Gardens in Kolkata (then Calcutta) hosted its first test match which was between India and England. The then England team led by the legendary Douglas Jardine had put the people of Calcutta in embarrassment as India was out for 247 in the first innings, and was asked to follow-on.Fortunately, India could save its first game in Eden Gardens because of a brave halfcentury by Dilawar Hussain and 43 by opening batsman Naoomal Jaoomal in the second innings. It was the beginning of a new era of cricket in Kolkata, and Eden Gardens, the second-largest cricket stadium in the world, had become a place of pilgrimage for most cricketers as well as cricket-lovers.The picturesque ground is believed to have the most passionate and vocal cricket spectators. It is said that a cricketer’s cricketing education is not complete till he has played a game in front of a packed Eden Gardens.But, exactly 77 years after the historic test match, people of Kolkata have now again been subjected to humiliation in the Eden Gardens. The International Cricket Council ( ICC) has dropped the crucial India- England match, scheduled to be held on February 27 in Eden Gardens. Both India and England are favourites to win the ICC World Cup.The ICC officials found that the infrastructure in the Mecca of cricket in Asia is still not ready to host the crucial match on February 27. Repeated requests by the officials of Cricket Association of Bengal ( CAB) to the Board of Control for Cricket in India ( BCCI) and the ICC did not yield any consideration.The entire state of West Bengal has been embarrassed because of ICC’s decision. All the Kolkata- based newspapers carried headline stories on the issue, describing that the World Cup fever is totally lost in Bengal even before a single ball is bowled.All the satellite television channels too have been airing headlines and debates on the ICC’s decision to shift the India- England match. Some even alleged that ICC president Sharad Pawar, who is a minister in the United Progressive Alliance government, is desperate to project Eden Gardens in poor light because West Bengal is ruled by the Left Front.As West Bengal is poll- bound, common people are worried that the crucial India- England match in Kolkata should not be a victim of political one- upmanship.Fortunately, railway minister Mamata Banerjee, so far, has not made any attempt to politicise the Eden Gardens issue.Humiliated with the ICC decision, West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee promised all possible help to the CAB to retain the crucial India- England match in Eden Gardens.He said it is a ” major setback” for the cricket- loving people of the state.Even sports minister Kanti Ganguly held meetings with CAB president Jagmohan Dalmiya to find out ways to retain the crucial tie in Kolkata, and put an end to the embarrassment to the state.Chuni Goswami, a great footballer, and former captain of the Bengal Ranji Trophy team said that the crisis over Eden Gardens was result of ” sheer lack of judgement”. He said the CAB should not have undertaken massive renovation works at the stadium.In recent times, Eden Gardens has not been getting international matches primarily because of CAB president Jagmohan Dalmiya’s hostility with BCCI honchos, including its president Shashank Manohar and ICC chief Sharad Pawar. The last oneday international here was played on December 24, 2009.Meanwhile, there has been strong demand by a section of the people to immediately remove CAB secretary Biswaroop Dey, and entrust former Team India captain Saurav Ganguly to handle the World Cup matches in Eden Gardens.In response to this demand, the chief minister has appointed the former India captain to liaison with Sharad Pawar for the World Cup preparations. Roads in several places in Kolkata were blocked by people in protest against the ICC decision.If ICC cancels the three other World Cup matches in Eden Garden, it would be the last nail in the coffin. In addition to the February 27 one- dayer, Eden Gardens is scheduled to host Ireland- Holland, South Africa- Ireland and Zimbabwe- Kenya matches.If the crucial India- England match is not held, will Kolkata be happy with the other matches? Can Eden Garden bail itself out of the crisis again?advertisement