The Delhi government on Tuesday bid adieu to retail liquor business as a new excise regime is set to hit the city markets from today, with swanky liquor outlets having walk-ins and and some having tasting facilities to enhance user experience.
Tuesday was the last business day for nearly 600 government-run liquor shops operating across the national capital.
As per the new excise policy, the liquor business will now be handled completely by private players.
Under the new regime, the city will have 850 swanky liquor vends where people will be able to walk in and chose the brand of their choice as they do in shopping malls.
The new licence holders will start retail sale of liquor in the city from today.
With the new regime in place, the L-17 licensees, which include independent restaurants or gastro-bars, may serve any Indian or foreign liquor at any area like balcony, terrace, lower area of the restaurant with the condition that the alcohol serving area be screened off from public view.
They can also play live music and have professional performances, bands, DJ, karaoke, singing and dancing at the premises.
However, sources said that there maybe chaos and shortage of alcohol on the very first day of the new liquor regime as nearly 250-300 vends are likely to operate today.
They also said that in many areas shops are still being prepared for operations.
Excise Department officials said that new liquor vends will remain open from 10 am to 10 pm.
As per the new excise policy, which was put in public domain in July this year, classy liquor vends will be set up in 32 zones across the city. One retail licensee will have 27 liquor shops per zone.
The new policy aims at revolutionising the consumer experience by replacing the existing liquor vends in the nooks and corners of the city with posh and stylish liquor stores spread over at least 500 square feet area with walk-in facility.
These shops will be spacious, well lit and air-conditioned.
The policy also 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.
It stipulates that the new liquor stores will have to be equipped with air-conditioning and CCTV cameras. The policy also bars selling liquor through grilled shops with people crowding outside on roads and pavements.
Delhi Liquor Trade Association President Naresh Goyal said that there are chances of chaos in the beginning as all shops will not be able to start functioning from Wednesday.
He said in many places shops are still being prepared at par with the new guidelines so it may take some time.
"Not more than 250-300 shops will be able to function on the first day. There maybe some shortage in the initial few days due to lesser number of shops, however, it will end as new vends come up," Mr Goyal said.
Officials of the Excise Department said that 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.
They said that provisional licences have been given to around 350 shops and registration of over 200 brands have been done with 10 wholesale licensees. The wholesale licensees have procured nine lakh litres of liquor of various brands so far.
Liquor prices in the city might go up as the private vends open from today under Delhi government's new excise policy.
The Excise Department, which is in the process of fixing the maximum retail price (MRP) of brands to be registered in Delhi, said the wholesale price of all types of liquor are likely to increase by 8-9 per cent.
The impact on wholesale price due to incorporation of factors like central sales tax at 2 per cent, profit margin for wholesaler, import pass fee and freight and handling charges, as approved in the Excise Policy 2021-22, will cause 10 per cent to 25 per cent rise for some brands of whisky (Indian manufactured foreign liquor), with fluctuation per unit from 8 per cent (Royal Stag Premier) to 25.9 per cent (Blenders Pride Rare), the government had said in an order last month.
In the old regime, Delhi had 260 privately owned liquor vends and nearly 600 government-run liquor shops.
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 wrapped up their business on Tuesday night.
The government had kept a total reserve price for all the 32 zones at around Rs 7,041 crore but it earned about Rs 8,917.59 crore through bidding.
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.)