A quiet balancing act between the ideals of “dry” Gujarat and compulsions of attracting businesses is underway in the form of efforts for relaxation from prohibition inside the limits of Gift City SEZ.
As early as September 27, 2020, the Gift City management had requested the Superintendent of prohibition and excise to allow relaxation in liquor laws in the Special Economic Zone area of the Gift City under sections 139(1)(c),146(b) and 147 of the Gujarat Prohibition Act,1949. It is learnt that in the run-up to the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, the Chief Minister’s Office is in the process of dealing with the issue.
When the Governments both Central and State, are pushing hard to lure national and international fintech companies to set up shop at the Gift City in Gandhinagar, the prohibition on booze is often cited as an impediment. It is believed that a “social evening life scene” is missing in Gujarat due to prohibition laws and lowers the prospects of Gift City as the desired destination for top-notch talents in comparison to other such venues.
The state allows liquor permits to tourists and business travellers from outside of Gujarat and foreigners. It also allows liquor consumption to residents inside SEZ under the current notification. It is being argued that for a thriving social life, indispensable for a business environment, bars and wine and dine facilities are a must.
Gujarat has been facing this moral dilemma ever since. Being Mahatma Gandhi’s land and as such culturally more on the conventional side, Gujarat through it’s women’s representative groups and Gandhans have always faced stiff resistance to the proposals of removal of prohibition in the state.