Amid lockdown, when wine shops were closed and liquor was unavailable, some vendors have turned it into an opportunity to supply quota to booze seekers on higher prices. An average beer was available for 500 rupees to 1000, but the addiction and craving, boost the back marketing.
Now, as government has allowed wine and beer shop owners to fine tune their arrangements to launch a mechanism for home delivering Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) amid the lockdown owing to the novel coronavirus. As far as home delivery is concerned, once the mechanism is approved by the excise wing, phone numbers will be displayed outside the shop, hopefully in 2 to 3 days. Moreover, payment-on-delivery options will be offered to negate any type of fraud. After a dry spell of nearly two months, an order was recently issued, allowing home delivery of IMFL spirits, beer and wines to permit holders in accordance with a series of guidelines and norms inked by the government authorities for specific zones tagged by the district administration in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Three days after the state permitted home delivery of alcohol to avoid overcrowding outside liquor shops, 5,434 orders were placed in Maharashtra, the first day. Of this, 88 per cent of the orders were received from the districts of Nagpur and Latur.
State Excise Commissioner Kantilal Umap told AV, “There is huge demand still, out of all the orders in Maharashtra Nagpur alone accounted for 2,700 orders. Latur saw another 2,100 orders being placed.” Almost 95 per cent of the orders were for purchase of hard liquor, he added.
Deepa Wine shop owner in Kandivali stated that “We had enough stock and many has asked us for back door supply on higher prices, but we refrained doing so. In Mumbai, many shops did great business during lockdown, it was risky but one should know managing it all is not difficult”. Even authorities need their quota.
Prashant Satam, a BMC worker told AV, “See this ban and restrictions is just eye wash, Gujrat and Bihar like dry states have heavy sell of liquor, the supply reaches to desired persons. This is Mumbai, people know where to go and what to get, yes the prices are high but still craving is greater than all other equations.”
While retail liquor shops are now running in 26 of the 36 districts in the state, home delivery orders in other areas were few and far between on the first day. “It is still early days. There were some teething issues. In some mofussil areas, wine and beer shops had difficulty in locating a doctor who can issue fitness certificates to the delivery boys. In some other cases, shop owners said they have found it difficult to recruit additional staff,” said Umap, adding the activity is being monitored at the district level.
A senior state official said the first day’s trend was on expected lines. “We expect home deliveries to be a more popular option in the cities. In semi urban and rural belts, where there is not much crowding, we feel people will prefer going to shops,” the official said.
The excise department is hoping that stores in Mumbai are allowed to resume liquor sales soon. “Home deliveries should pick up a lot of more once Mumbai and other municipal corporations in Mumbai Metropolitan Region allow the same,” said a senior official.
Parbhani, another district that is yet to allow liquor shops to open, has decided to only permit home deliveries from May 18. The local administration has made prior registrations mandatory for all those who want to place orders. Till Friday evening, records show that 4,935 liquor vends – 530 wine shops, 2,129 beer shops and 1,938 country liquor shops – were operational in the state.