Under the excise policy 2022-23, the Delhi government is likely to relax norms for setting up labs at warehouses of wholesalers for testing samples of alcohol to detect spurious elements in them, reported news agency PTI, quoting officials.

According to them, the government is expected to allow a wholesale licensee (L-1) to set up just one lab, instead of a lab at each warehouse owned by the licensee.

“It was proposed that instead of establishment of lab at each bonded warehouse, each L-1 licensee must have at least one laboratory irrespective of the number of bonded warehouses operated through the licence,” read an official document cited by PTI.

This comes after the wholesale licensees represented to the excise department that establishing a laboratory at each bonded warehouse costs around 20-30 lakh, which includes expenses on staff salary and testing material.

In addition to this, there is also no guarantee that the same entity will be granted an L-1 licence in the next policy year as it is a non-renewable one.

Last year, the excise department had asked all the wholesale licensees to start testing liquor received from manufacturers and upload reports on a portal along with undertaking that there is no spurious alcohol.

However, the provision of setting up a lab could not gather speed as the excise policy came into effect late.

What does the policy say?

The policy was implemented with opening of retail vends by private operators from 17 November 2021.

It had mandated that each wholesale licensee was required to set up an approved laboratory at its warehouses to check the presence of spurious liquor in each batch of liquor received from the manufacturers.

According to the policy, the wholesalers have to upload a test report for each batch of alcohol received from manufacturers and give an undertaking that the liquor is not spurious.

The policy further stipulated constitution of special teams for sample collection from warehouses, retail vends, hotels, clubs and restaurants across all brands.

Any L-1 licence holder or retail shop owner found in possession of spurious liquor will lose their licence and will be subject to criminal proceedings as prescribed under the law, it stated.

Other proposed changes 

The Delhi government has recommended that under the new policy, independent restaurants in 5-star hotels will be able to get a new license of “L-16A” which will allow them to serve liquor for 24 hours within a hotel for a license fee of 25 lakhs per annum instead of the current 1 crore per annum fee.

There is a proposed change of excise duty reduction to 30 per bulk litre – which is one litre or three pints – in line with Chandigarh. It is currently 40 per bulk litre in Delhi.

The above news was originally posted on www.livemint.com