Almost 47 years after the state’s policy to not issue or create new licences for liquor sale and consumption, the Maharashtra excise commissioner has proposed to create a new category of licences for the existing premium liquor shops and bars at the Mumbai airport.
This category of licences once created, say experts, maybe in future extended to metro stations, malls, multiplexes and other city centres attracting tourists.
A proposal sent by commissioner Kantilal Umap on May 14, 2021, to the Principal Secretary, state excise at Mantralaya is based on the memorandum submitted by the GVK Mumbai International Airport in which the airport developer has pointed out the need to treat bars and shops at the airport through a separate category.
According to the proposal, two separate categories of licences such as on-consumption (open) and off-consumption (sealed) can be created for the airport licence. This is because the existing installations inside the airport do not have to follow the dry days and can operate 24 hours unlike other shops and bars outside the airport. These installations keep a variety of premium brands too.
Principal secretary, Excise, Valsa Nair Singh confirmed that the ministry had received such a proposal from the commissioner. However, Singh pointed out that there was no move yet to take the proposal further. Meanwhile, Umap remained tightlipped when asked to explain and react to his proposal.
According to GVK MIAL, there is a difference between the liquor shops outside the airport and the ones inside as the airport allowed entry only to the passengers and officials working there. And hence, such shops and bars inside the airport deserved a separate category.
Mumbai does have different categories of liquor licences or permits for shops, hoteliers and clubs but not for airports. However, Punjab and Delhi have separate categories for such facilities at the airport too. Presently in the state, all such licences at the airport are issued under FL2 and FL3 which are also given to the shops and bars outside the airport.
“To facilitate this, the Mumbai Foreign Liquor Regulations 1953 will have to be amended for which a draft notification will be necessary based on certain criteria such as separate licensing fees for installations at the airports,” the letter pointed out.
In Delhi, there is a separate authority to run a shopping mall at the airport and hence, those who have hired spaces there apply for the liquor licence separately, the letter states further. Thus, in the case of Mumbai too, licences can be issued in the name of those businesses which have hired the spaces inside the airport on lease.