With the ambitious plans of the New Delhi Government taking shape from the coming week, over 147 individual liquor shops in the Union Territory would shut down their stores as they have not renewed their L-10 Licences, with the base price of bidding kept at Rs. 250 Crores. From 1 Oct. ‘21, these shop owners would not be able to sell liquor as their license will expired day before.
The State Government earns Rs. 6,500 Crores through excise revenues. However, the manner in which the small shops, typically mom and shop owners who have been running the business for many decades, sometimes passed down a generation, are akin to the typical “kirana shop” model in the Grocery business with an Owner who gets the license in his or her name and employs a dozen staff (per store) and operates the liquor shops like any other format. Being the country’s political capital and having one of the highest per-capita consumption in the country at a city level, New Delhi is infamous for its liquor shops which dot the roads and crowded neighbourhoods. However, the stores have only gotten more disorganised with time passing by and that’s where the Government wants to bring a change.
While there is always a heated discussion in the powers of corridor how illicit liquor, including branded ones from neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, as well as imported liquor enters the city. With the city boasting the likes of high and the mighty, liquor taps flow day and night, sometimes without required permissions as well. For Ex., during the Big Fat Indian weddings, much popularised and eulogised in Bollywood Films, liquor is an important part of the week-long activities, many of which happen in farm houses in the city’s outskirts as well as rave parties that happen within the confines of “colonies and apartment complexes”. The sellers charge a heft premium to serve liquor with extended service including the product mix, door delivery, accepting cash (for sales, which most times go unaccounted for) and of course, supplying narcotics which are banned.
Manish Sisodia, the public face of the Aam Aadmi Party which runs the city-state, had said that the Government wishes to give a makeover to the way liquor retail is currently being undertaken. If his party’s dreams fly through, Delhi city might see swanky retail stores, akin to what we see in Mumbai and Bangalore, spread over 1,000s of sq.ft. in Malls and shopping areas. If revenue leakage plugging is the real intention of the government, then every citizen certainly stands by this novel idea. But to displace thousands of families, mostly migrants, who have been working in the industry for want of a “shoo-sha” which Delhi is infamous for, then the entire intention gets questioned.
Meanwhile, Delhi would run dry for the next couple of days until mid-October when new stores are expected to open, with a slew of “rich and wealthy, connected Entrepreneurs” enter the fray.