With the extension of nationwide lockdown for the third time, Centre has allowed some relief to businesses in all zones – red, orange, and green. The government has allowed liquor stores and paan shops to reopen in all three zones.
Punjab is going to commence home delivery of liquor after the 9 am- 1 pm opening hours. Liquor shops in the state are to reopen on May 6. Instructions regarding the same have been issued by the Excise and Taxation Department, according to The Tribune report.
The state-wise survey, done by the Social Justice Ministry, shows that more than half of Punjabi men drink alcohol and the state also houses the highest proportion of children consuming psychoactive substances. The proportion of children hooked on alcohol in Punjab is thrice the national average, the government study on drug extent and prevalence in India has shown.
The data show that a high proportion of children have reported alcohol use (more than thrice the national average) in Punjab (6 percent) followed by West Bengal (3.9 percent) and Maharashtra (3.8 percent). Not only this, but Punjab also has the highest proportion of cannabis users in the country. While the all-India average of the current use of cannabis among 10 to 75-year-olds is 2.83 percent, the corresponding average is 12.55 percent in Punjab, followed by Sikkim and Delhi.
The government experienced Rs 500 crore excise duty loss in April. By enabling home delivery between 1 pm and 6 pm, the government hopes to boost liquor sales, hence enabling the licenses to pay pending excise duty.
“When the lockdown was announced, old licensees were granted an extension and they paid 60 percent of the fee. The remaining had to be paid in the last week of March,” explained Vivek Pratap Singh, Excise and Taxation Commissioner.
“Also, if liquor is home-delivered, it will prevent crowding at the vends,” he added. But licensees say liquor being cheaper in neighbouring Haryana and Chandigarh, the move is bound to encourage smuggling. Liquor licensees have written to the CM, seeking a 50% cut in the license fee and more time to deposit the pending fee, according to Varinder Sharma, a contractor.
As the liquor shops in several cities reopened on May 4, multiple scenes of chaos were witnessed outside the government-run shops in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Lucknow, and other cities.