BOOZE ON CALL IN PUN­JAB FROM TO­DAY

IN PUN­JAB Ser­vice avail­able only for IMFL; vend own­ers can take or­ders on phone

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - FRONT PAGE - Gur­preet Singh Nib­ber & Navra­jdeep Singh let­ter­schd@hin­dus­tan­times.com With in­puts from Sachin Sharma in Bathinda

CHANDI­GARH/PA­TIALA: The Pun­jab ex­cise and tax­a­tion depart­ment has de­cided to open liquor vends from Thurs­day for four hours (9am-1pm). It has also asked vend own­ers to fa­cil­i­tate home de­liv­ery of In­dian Made For­eign Liquor (IMFL), not more than two litres per or­der, be­tween 1 pm to 6 pm, till the time cur­few is in place.

Ac­cord­ing to depart­ment guide­lines is­sued on Wed­nes­day, vend own­ers can book or­ders over phone and de­pute two em­ploy­ees for home de­liv­ery. Pun­jab Made Liquor (PML), or desi, would not be de­liv­ered home.

As there is no pro­vi­sion for home de­liv­ery in the Pun­jab Ex­cise Act, the state cab­i­net will ap­prove the ex­cise depart­ment’s or­der on Thurs­day. “We have com­pleted all modal­i­ties for start­ing home de­liv­ery of liquor. We hope for a green sig­nal from the cab­i­net also,” said ad­di­tional ex­cise and tax­a­tion com­mis­sioner Navdeep K Bhin­der.

“We will know a lot of things only af­ter we take cer­tain de­ci­sions, and then make needed rec­ti­fi­ca­tions,” Bhin­der added.

In the ex­cise pol­icy for 2020-21 that the state cab­i­net had ap­proved in Jan­uary this year, it was de­cided to start on­line sale (home de­liv­ery) of liquor as a pi­lot project in Mo­hali.

All 5,800 liquor vends, ex­cept those in seven con­tain­ment zones, are ex­pected to open. Ja­land­har and Pa­tiala dis­tricts have two con­tain­ment zones, with one each in Nawan­shahr, Pathankot and Mo­hali.

Deputy com­mis­sion­ers and deputy ex­cise and tax­a­tion com­mis­sion­ers will take de­ci­sions in their ar­eas as the sit­u­a­tion evolves.

VEND OWN­ERS RE­LUC­TANT, SEEK COM­PEN­SA­TION

With Thurs­day, the first day of open­ing this fis­cal, vend own­ers are claim­ing a straight loss of 10% (Rs 620 crore of an­nual rev­enue tar­get of Rs 6,200 crore based on the fixed quota sys­tem), say­ing that vends have al­ready been shut for 36 days.

Varinder Sharma, a liquor trader from Ludhiana said, “I, and many other traders, are not will­ing to open vends.” Anil Ma­ha­jan, who has stakes in liquor business in the Doaba re­gion, said they were not in a po­si­tion to open vends.

Vend own­ers are also claim­ing com­pen­sa­tion for loss of nine days of last fis­cal, with the lock­down com­ing into force from March 23. The depart­ment has said that it would con­duct stock ver­i­fi­ca­tion first and any de­ci­sion on losses would be taken later.

ON A HIGH A man with a box of beer out­side a vend in Chandi­garh on Wed­nes­day. The liquor prices have wit­nessed an in­crease of round 30% in the city . RAVI KU­MAR//HT

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