No bidders for 119 outlets in Puducherry, Karaikal

As a sign of customers losing interest in consumption of arrack and toddy, the much-touted arrack shop auction has evoked lukewarm response from the bidders in Puducherry.

Out of the 82 arrack shops that went on auction online, there were no bidders for 70 shops in different parts of Puducherry and Karaikal till 5 pm on Friday.

The Department of Excise, which controls the sale of Indian Made Foreign Liquor, toddy and arrack in the Union Territory of Puducherry, began the exercise amidst controversy over running about 15 arrack and toddy shops on land owned by a dozen temples in these two regions. Though the existing licensees could renew their respective shops by paying five per cent more than the previous auctioned price, most of them did not come forward to renew them. In Karaikal, just 15 out of 29 arrack shops were renewed by the respective owners. Remaining shops failed to receive bids on Friday, which was the last extended day of auction.

The same trend was witnessed in the auction of toddy shops also. Out of the 74 shops situated in Puducherry, only 25 shops were renewed and there were no bidders for the remaining shops. However, as many as 12 shops have been auctioned for higher price. A shop near bus stand, which fetched Rs. 21.17 lakh per month in the last year auction, has been auctioned for Rs. 25.21 lakh this year.

Abnormal base price fixed by the Excise Department could be the main reason for the poor response, industry insiders say. Officials, however, were of the view that as per the standard rule, they have no option but to summarily fix base price based on last year’s auctioned price.

A senior official of the Excise Department said there would be a re-auction in the next few days.

As per the rule, five per cent of the base price would be reduced in the next auction to attract bidders.

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