Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on Wednesday that there was no proposal before the State or Central government to ban the sale of arecanut. He would not allow the ban, even if such a proposal were to come before him, the chief minister said.
He was speaking to reporters after launching several development works in the town.Siddaramaiah said the BJP was trying to gain political mileage out of the issue. He said that a public interest litigation had been filed in the Supreme Court in this regard and that an advocate had been appointed to argue the case in favour of the State government and the arecanut growers.
The chief minister said that Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had promised a delegation from Karnataka that there was no question of banning the sale of areca.
Dispelling fears of the growers, he said that the State would oppose any move to ban sale of arecanut. The chief minister asked arecanut growers not to heed the rumours being spread by BJP leaders in this regard. Udupi-Chikmagalur MP Jayaprakash Hegde expressed solidarity with the arecanut growers and said that they need not have any apprehensions.
Siddaramaiah also categorically refused to ban liquor in the State, as he thinks it will not be feasible.
The chief minister said that as long as people are addicted to alcohol, banning liquor will serve no purpose.
“People did not quit drinking even after arrack was banned. The addicts spend Rs 50 on liquor, while earlier arrack cost them Rs 25. The ban has only made them shell out more of their hard-earned money. It helped the government neither to protect their health nor to wipe the tears of the womenfolk in the families of the addicts. Those who were into arrack trade lost their livelihood and the poor became poorer. Even previously, I never endorsed sale of liquor. I also do not want to lift the ban on arrack. But I was against the ban as it only led to more problems than addressing any,” he said.
He said the Gujarat government had banned liquor, but could not prevent people from consuming alcohol.
The chief minister said the process of appointing chairpersons to academies will be completed in January. He was replying to the litterateurs’ criticism that the government had delayed the appointment to the academies.