New Delhi: Private liquor shops shut shop Thursday as they get replaced by over 300 Delhi government vendsowing to the switch over from the Excise Policy 2021-22 to the old regime.
Nearly 250 private liquor vendors, licensed under now-withdrawn Excise Policy 2021-22, have been operating in the city. Some of the private vends with stocks to clear saw crowd outside as they offered schemes like buy one to get one free on Thursday, news agency PTI reported.
The Excise department had notified to the private licensees that they will not be allowed in retail liquor sale beyond August 31.
PTI cited officials as saying that the rebates and schemes offered earlier under Excise Policy 2021-22 will not be available as liquor stores will be opened by government undertakings from Thursday.
The six shops at domestic terminal of IGI airport run by private operators are being shut, hampering availability. Liquor will be available at duty free shops of the airport, officials said.
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250 Private Shops Replaced By Over 300 Government Vends
As many as 650 private liquor vends had come up under the Excise Policy 2021-22 but the license holders later surrendered their licenses due to different reasons, including restriction on opening stores in non-conforming areas in the city.
The Excise Policy 2021-22 was withdrawn by the Delhi government last month, after LG VK Saxena recommended a CBI probe into alleged irregularities in its implementation.
The Excise officials stated that the liquor supply will improve from first week of September due to opening of more shops.
“Currently, there are nearly 250 private shops that will be replaced by over 300 government vends. So there will be more shops and the number will grow further in the coming days as 500 shops are planned to be opened by four Delhi government undertakings,” said a senior Excise department officer, as quoted by PTI.
Several government vends will be operating in malls and near Metro stations.
The Delhi government undertakings – Delhi Tourism And Transportation Development Corporation Limited (DTTDC), Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC), Department of Delhi State Civil Supplies Corporation Limited (DSCSC) and Delhi Consumer’s Cooperative Wholesale Store Ltd (DCCWS) – have been given a target to open 700 liquor shops in the city by end of this year, officials said, as per PTI.
A mobile app ‘mAbkaridelhi’ developed by the Excuse department will be launched to provide consumers information about location of liquor stores in their neighbourhood and shop timings.
The government agencies have also managed to open shops in New Delhi Municipal Council areas after the civic body had earlier rejected a proposal for opening shops there.
The government undertakings have managed to set up liquor stores at rented premises in G Block Connaught Place, Gole Market, Khan Market, Yashwant Place among others, said the officials.
Challenges With Reverting To Old Liquor Policy
A senior Excise officer said that over 360 liquor brands were registered as per the old excise regime that was in operation before November 17, 2021 when the Excise Policy 2021-22 became functional.
However, some liquor traders claimed that many popular brands with large sale volume were yet to be registered by the Excise department.
“There are likely to be some teething problems as the switch over from private to government vends takes place but the situation is expected to stabilise with more brand registration and more shops opening in coming days,” said the excise department officer.
With Delhi returning back to old excise policy regime, the capital will also see the promotion of draught beer. Excise department has also issued licenses to three to four microbreweries that will start working from first week of September, said Excise officials.
“There are plans to promote draught beer by setting up microbreweries in Delhi as there is a significant demand in the segment. More microbreweries will come up in the near future,” an Excise official said, as quoted by PTI.
The Delhi government issued zonal licences to private bidders for 849 liquor vends across the city under the Excise Policy, 2021-22. Nearly half of them had surrendered their licenses in June-July.
Vinod Giri, Director General, Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC) stated that even with best efforts by the authorities and the industry, initial days of going back to the old excise policy is not going to be easy.
Meanwhile, many L1 licenses are in place, around 240-260 outlets are likely to start from day one, which will go up to 500 within a month, PTI reported him as saying.
The CIABC Director General noted that stocks are already filling up in retail but consumers may find some popular products, especially imported liquor, missing from shelves as they are yet to register, nor is there a clarity when will they register.
“This will impact hotels, pubs, bars and restaurants where such products are popular. Prices will also go back up as discounts are not permitted,” he said.
The switchover of liquor sale to all government retail outlets has led to some unforeseen and unwarranted outcomes, he added.
He stated that the transition pains out of extremely short changeover period. We hope government maintains intensity to resolve these without any delay, he said.
(With Agency Inputs)