No liquor vends will open in 105 of the 272 municipal wards of Delhi for over one and a half months – between October 1 and November 16 – to ensure a smooth transition to the new excise regime.
In around 80 wards of the national capital, there are no liquor vends. In another 26 wards, there are only privately-owned liquor vends that will close down from October 1, according to officials.
With only government liquor stores functioning from October 1 to November 16, the 26 wards will go dry during the period, according to a PTI report.
"Practically, the 105 wards in the three municipal corporations in Delhi will have no functional liquor vend after September 30 till November 16," the report said quoting an official.
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The 26 municipal wards which will go completely dry during this period include RK Puram, Andrews Ganj, Lajpat Nagar, Patparganj, Rajouri Garden, Tughlaqabad, Kotla Mubarakpur, Inderpuri, Rani Bagh, Rohtash Nagar, Jilmil and Pandav Nagar.
Also, the government liquor vends will shut down after November 16. The Arvind Kejriwal-led government doesn’t want to do business of selling liquor, and decided to exit the market completely. The excise department, in an order issued earlier this month, allowed the Delhi government-run liquor vends to continue with the retail sale of liquor till November 16 after furnishing the requisite licence fee.
“The licences of private vends will expire on September 30, and will not be renewed, several people have not managed to win the bid again as the one-time licence fee has been increased several times over. In this scenario, most vends are not restocking as they do not have a long window to sell. Even if existing dealers have won bids, they will not buy new stock as they will not be allowed to reopen till November 17,” a senior Delhi government official was quoted by Indian Express.
Under the new excise policy of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, retail liquor sale licences have already been allocated to the highest bidders in 32 zones, each having around 10 wards and 27 liquor vends, according to the PTI report cited above.
The bidding process for the 32 zones, concluded by the excise department in two phases in August and September, earned a revenue of over Rs 8,900 crore to the government, the reports said.
Also, read: Explained | All you need to know about Delhi's new excise policy
Overall, there are 849 liquor stores in Delhi, of which 276 are privately run. The rest are operated by the Delhi government’s agencies.
The government plans to keep the total number of vends intact, reshuffling them into 32 zones to ensure a more equitable distribution across 272 municipal wards in the city, the New Delhi Municipal Council area and the airport.
Under the new excise policy implemented on June 11, retailers are free to decide the selling prices in a competitive environment, rather than the retail prices set by the government, reports said.
Liquor traders have expressed fear that the increased demand during festivals will lead to bootlegging.
“Due to lower accessibility of liquor in Delhi during this 46-day period, people will start moving to Haryana to buy liquor. It could also lead to illegal smuggling of liquor from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and its sale in the black market at higher rates,” Naresh Goyal, president of Delhi liquor traders association was quoted saying in Hindustan Times.