Wine shops in the twin cities have turned into open bars as shop owners are selling liquor in loose, as officials are turning a blind eye to the illegal practice.
Take any wine shop for instance. Every evening, the surroundings turn shady with a lot of people drinking in the shadows as the police patrolling the area too ignore them. But it is not a full bottle of liquor that these tipplers buy.
Pegs of 30ml and 60ml are sold loose by the shops for anywhere between Rs.30 and Rs.45 and most of the buyers consist of daily wage labourers.
Though most of the wine shops are on the roads, each place has a nearby spot where the open drinking takes place.
“We can't walk on the footpaths as a lot of men are in an inebriated state and sometimes pass comments, if we are unaccompanied,” complains G. Radhika, a resident of Bible House.
However, most of the wine retailers disagree upfront that loose liquor is sold at their shops. But it is not just cheap liquor. One can see branded drinks such as vodka, whiskey and rum being sold for Rs.170 for 60ml.
“Most of the shops sell cheap liquor in 90ml bottles which is in huge demand. No shop owner will take the risk of selling loose liquor to customers because it is a serious offence.
Moreover, they spend crores on obtaining a licence. As retailers, our responsibility is to sell liquor in sealed bottles and we are not responsible for persons consuming liquor near the shops,” says D. Venkateshwar Rao, State general secretary of A.P. State Wine Dealers Association.
When contacted, officials of the State Excise Department said that so far, they did not receive any complaint about loose liquor being sold. However, if they received any complaint regarding sale of loose liquor, cases would be booked under the A.P. Excise Act and Rules, an official said.
Keywords: illegal liquor sales