The Delhi government will formally exit the liquor business as nearly 600 vends run by it will be shut from Tuesday night, making way for new swanky private shops with walk-in facility which will begin operations the next morning under the new excise policy.
Department sources expressed apprehension that there may be a further shortage of liquor in the city due to the closure of government-run liquor vends as all the 850 new private vends are unlikely to start functioning in one go from Wednesday.
They said licences have been distributed to all applicants in 32 zones but about 300-350 shops are likely to start operations on the first day of the new excise regime.
"Provisional licences have been given to around 350 shops. Over 200 brands have been registered with 10 wholesale licensees starting operations who have procured nine lakh litres of liquor of various brands so far," the sources said.
However, officials said that gradually all 850 liquor vends will start functioning and there will be no shortage after that.
The officials said this will be the first time that all government-run liquor shops will be shut in the national capital, and the business will be completely transferred to private players.
Under the new excise policy of the Delhi government, all the 850 liquor vends, including the 260-odd outlets run privately, have been given to private firms through open tender.
The private liquor vends had already shut operations on September 30, and the government ones which were operating in the transition period of one-and-a-half months will wrap up their business on Tuesday night.
The new licence holders will start retail sale of liquor in the city from Wednesday (November 17).
As per the new excise policy, which was put in the public domain in July this year, swanky liquor vends will be set up in 32 zones across the city where people would be able to walk in and choose the brand of their choice, akin to shopping malls.
Under the new system, the government will be out of retail liquor trade, paving the way for closure of state-run shops and promoting private players in the national capital.
The new excise policy aims at revolutionising the consumer experience by replacing the existing liquor vends in the nooks and corners of the city, with swanky liquor stores spread over at least 500 square feet area with walk-in facility.
It stipulates that the new liquor stores will have to be equipped with air-conditioning and CCTV cameras. It also bars selling liquor through grilled shops with people crowding outside on roads and pavements.
The new excise policy allows opening of five super-premium retail vends having an area of 2,500 square feet. Liquor tasting facility will also be developed at these super-premium retail vends.
On Monday, the office of the excise department of the Delhi government saw more than usual rush of representatives belonging to new shop allottees to get last-minute glitches fixed as the new policy goes on the floor from Wednesday.
The Delhi government had already issued guidelines regarding placing order and receiving the liquor stock for upcoming swanky shops under the new regime.
The officials said that liquor vends under the new excise policy have already started placing orders for procurement of liquor from November 11.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)