New Delhi, Nov 17 (PTI) Many liquor vends in Delhi were not operational on the first day of the new excise regime, while at shops that were open people had to return empty-handed complaining that lack of adequate supply has led to a “dry day” in the city.
Under the new policy, 849 swanky mall-like liquor vends with walk-in facilities where people can pick their choice of liquor were to be opened from Wednesday to offer people a better alcohol-buying experience.
However, shops at many places such as Mayur Vihar, New Ashok Nagar, Govindpuri, Kashmere Gate, INA and Dwarka were found either being readied or their shelves empty due to “shortage of supply”. At some places, shops were found to be closed.
Tuesday was the last business day for nearly 600 government-run liquor shops operating across the national capital. According to the new excise policy, the liquor business will now be handled completely by private players.
As many as 260 old private vends had shut their business on September 30.
“Vends here are either closed or don’t have liquor. Shopkeepers say that the supply dried up,” said Devesh Verma who went to buy alcohol at Galleria Mall in Mayur Vihar Extension. Guards at the mall were seen requesting people to try to get liquor on Thursday or Friday.
At the newly opened private liquor vends in Dwarka Sector 12 and south Delhi’s Govindpuri, shelves were empty. A dealer in Govindpuri complained that he could not replenish his liquor stock despite getting a provisional license.
“We are being told that there is some licensing issue with wholesalers so there is a shortage in supply. Liquor shortage is likely to continue for at least two to three days,” he told PTI.
Excise department officers did not comment when asked about the complaint of liquor shortage.
Under the new excise policy, classy liquor vends are being set up in 32 zones across the city. One retail licensee will have 27 liquor shops per zone. These posh and stylish stores with over at least 500 square feet area would replace the existing liquor vends in the nooks and corners of the city.
However, many of them were found to be not ready on the first day of business.
In INA, a liquor vend getting the finishing touches and the staff there said they can apply for the stock only after getting a provisional licence from the government after submitting a video of the shop.
Liquor shops were found closed in New Ashok Nagar, Laxmi Nagar and Kashmere Gate as well. “There is no point in opening the outlet on the first day as we did not get the stock,” a liquor dealer at Kashmere Gate said.
Tushar Kasana, who visited many shops in Govindpuri to buy liquor said that the vends are either under maintenance or do not have the stock. “The government should have made adequate arrangements before overhauling the entire system.”
Another buyer claimed that the shortage of liquor started two to three days ago when only government vends were operating with limited stock. “But today, it feels like a dry day. Most of the shops are under maintenance.”
According to government officials, provisional licences have been given to around 350 shops and registration of over 200 brands have been done with 10 wholesale licensees. Wholesale licensees have procured nine lakh litres of liquor of various brands, they said.
The new excise policy allows the opening of five super-premium retail vends having an area of 2,500 square feet. Liquor tasting facility will also be developed at these super-premium retail vends.
According to excise department officials said the new liquor vends will remain open from 10 am to 10 pm but those at the airport can function round the clock.
The policy also allows the sale of liquor in bottles at restaurants. The liquor will be served in glasses or full bottles at L-17 restaurants and it will be the sole responsibility of the licensee to ensure no bottle leaves the premises.
With the new regime in place, the L-17 licensees, which include independent restaurants or gastro-bars, may serve any Indian or foreign liquor at any area like balcony, terrace, lower area of the restaurant with the condition that the alcohol serving area be screened off from public view.
They can also play live music and have professional performances, bands, DJ, karaoke, singing and dancing at the premises.
Under the new excise policy, classy liquor vends are being set up in 32 zones across the city. One retail licensee will have 27 liquor shops per zone. The government had kept a total reserve price for all the 32 zones at around Rs 7,041 crore but it earned about Rs 8,917.59 crore through bidding.
The excise department said the wholesale prices of all types of liquor are likely to increase by eight to nine per cent.
The impact on wholesale price due to incorporation of factors like central sales tax at 2 per cent, profit margin for wholesaler, import pass fee and freight and handling charges, as approved in the Excise Policy 2021-22, will cause 10 per cent to 25 per cent rise for some brands of whisky (Indian manufactured foreign liquor), with fluctuation of each unit from 8 per cent to 25.9 per cent, the government had said in an order last month.
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