Delhi

Delhi govt. halts revamped excise policy

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia addressing media at his residence in New Delhi on Saturday.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia addressing media at his residence in New Delhi on Saturday. | Photo Credit: R.V. MOORTHY

Only government-run liquor vends will be allowed to sell alcohol in the city from August 1 with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government deciding not to extend the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 beyond July 31. The policy was extended twice in the new fiscal due to delay in the roll-out of the 2022-23 version.

While officially announcing this at a press conference on Saturday, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia did not give a date by which government vends would reopen for the public. This could leave consumers high and dry during the first few days of August.

Before the new excise policy kicked in on November 17, 2021, both private and government liquor vends were allowed to sell alcohol in the Capital. However, under the new policy, the government had completely pulled out of the business of selling liquor.

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On Friday it was learnt that the Delhi government had decided to go back to the “old regime” of retail liquor sale in the city for six months till a new excise policy is put in place.

Bracing for losses

A file noting dated Thursday states the same, but the return to the “old regime” excludes private vendors, leaving many private liquor vendors bracing for huge losses.

“We will shut shop tomorrow. When we applied for a licence to sell liquor, we hoped to renew it after July 31. However, our group, which had two zonal licences, will now end up losing several crores because of this change in the liquor policy,” said the manager of a privately-run liquor vend.

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A Delhi government source told agencies late on Saturday that to avert chaos due to shutting of private liquor shops and because government vends would need time to reopen fully, a proposal is likely to be presented before the Delhi Cabinet for a month’s extension to the 2021-22 policy soon.

Saturday’s announcement comes close to a week after Lieutenant-Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena recommended a CBI probe into the Delhi government’s 2021-22 excise policy, putting Mr. Sisodia, who also heads the Excise Department, directly in the line of fire.

AAP, BJP spar

Mr. Sisodia said that the new excise policy had put an end to corruption in the city’s liquor trade; however, the BJP wanted to promote the sale of illegal liquor targeted private liquor vendors.

“After the private liquor vendors were threatened with ED and CBI, many shut their shops. This number could further decrease. No one seems interested in applying for new liquor licences. They want to sell spurious liquor here, as is done in Gujarat,” the Deputy CM said, referring to the recent hooch tragedy in the BJP-ruled State.

Union Minister Meenakshi Lekhi led the BJP’s hitback, saying AAP’s Delhi government had indulged in “rampant corruption” through the revamped excise policy. “Just withdrawing the controversial excise policy is not going to help [Chief Minister Arvind] Kejriwal wash his hands off this,” she said.

Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta termed the roll-back of the policy a “victory for Delhiites”.

Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly Ramvir Singh Bidhuri said, “But for their stiff opposition to this policy, from the streets to the state assembly, this wouldn’t have been possible.”


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Printable version | Jul 31, 2022 11:03:23 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/delhi-govt-halts-revamped-excise-policy/article65703272.ece