MUMBAI: The state home department has asked the excise commissioner to direct all stakeholders in the liquor industry to stop home delivery of liquor it had permitted during Covid lockdown.
However, the excise department officials said that the ‘government will take a call on its future after considering all legal and social factors’. Meanwhile, retailers said their home delivery was on as they will seek commissioner’s directives on Thursday over the development.
The fact is that lakhs of consumers are now used to ordering liquor at home instead of queuing up at the shops which was actually the reason behind starting home delivery during the pandemic period. Excise officials said except for initial days they had no count of day-to-day home deliveries in Mumbai or Maharashtra so far.
The home department letter suggests restoration of pre-pandemic liquor sale practices thus indirectly putting an end to the home delivery liquor. Owing to the withdrawal of state protocol for covid lockdown, the decision to allow home delivery stands automatically withdrawn as it was meant for meeting social distancing norms during lockdown period only, stated the home department letter to the commissioner.
However, the excise department officials’ version saying that the government will take a call over future need of home delivery only after considering legal and social factors around it, has indicated that the government might soon rethink on its total withdrawal.
Principal secretary for excise Valsa Nair Singh said home delivery was approved only during the lockdown to ensure social distancing. “However, the government will shortly take a call on the future need to have a policy for home delivery or not after considering all legal and social factors surrounding it,” she said while talking to TOI. Meanwhile, excise commissioner Kantilal Umap said the prior position before the first lockdown will be maintained till the time the government takes its final call.
Sumit Chawla of the Association of progressive liquor vendors (APLV) said as of now it is the home department’s letter to the excise commissioner to end the home delivery as per its original mandate. However, we will seek commissioner’s guidance on Thursday before taking any decision on closure of home delivery, he added.
Bhavesh Patel, owner of World of Wines chain of wine shops, has a home delivery database of 9,500 customers in just one store in Nariman Point. “Thousands of delivery and IT personnel will lose their jobs if home delivery of liquor stops. Our shop for instance makes an average 150 daily despatches from Colaba to Andheri.
Today’s generation is tech savvy and they prefer to buy online rather than stand in queue at the shop. Online, one can select from a range of options around the clock. On the one hand, wines are now allowed to be sold in supermarkets, and on the other, liquor stores cannot even cater to consumers by delivering at home for their ease and comfort.”