BOOZE ON CALL IN PUNJAB FROM TODAY
IN PUNJAB Service available only for IMFL; vend owners can take orders on phone
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