The Maharashtra government has taken an important decision pertaining to reducing the number of country liquor bottles that can be stored from 12 to 2. They have taken this step to reduce the consumption of country made liquor. There has been a 25 to 20 per cent reduction in the sale of foreign made liquor after the demonetisation campaign announced by the Modi government. On the other hand, there has been a surge in the sale of country liquor as people were spending huge amount of old denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 to purchase it. Significantly, consumption of cheap country liquor has increased by up to 10% during this period. However, the excise department’s revenue had increased with a rise in 8 to 9 % spike in sales since past three to four months.
Social activist Anna Hazare had met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and bureaucrats in August to press for his demand for complete ban on sale of liquor from the state. He also wanted the government to form a committee to monitor the sale of liquor in the state. The Chief Minister had then assured Hazare of taking a positive step in this regard. Since people were misusing the old rule hence the government had introduced new norms to regulate the sale of country made liquor.
The state excise department has observed a significant fall in liquor sales after currency note ban. V Radha, state excise commissioner said the department has noticed a fall in liquor sales. She said, “The excise department has observed that the liquor sales have drastically fallen by 25-30% since November 8. This is a trend observed by the department. I don’t have figures as we collect monthly figures for liquor sales.”
Since there was a massive crackdown against adulterated toddy shops across the state people have shifted from toddy to country liquor. The excise department had carried out raids against illicit toddy shops after it observed that pharmaceutical drugs like chloral hydrate and alprazolam is being mixed in toddy. Chloral hydrate is used as a sedative and hypnotic drug to treat sleep disorders while alprazolam is used in treating panic and anxiety disorders.
Further, the state excise minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule decided to allow sale of toddy only where it is produced in view of the health hazards. The state government is also planning to relocate liquor shops out of villages in rural areas. “The shop owner has to shift his shop 100 metres away from the last structure of the village within one year. If he fails to do so, his license will stand cancelled,” said Bawankule.