As the city stares at a possible shortage of alcohol and crowding outside vends with 260 privately-run liquor shops shutting shop, the Delhi government on Thursday assured that steps are being taken to ensure people don't face any problem. The state-run vends have been instructed to keep sufficient stocks, the government said.
Under its new excise policy, the Delhi government has allocated fresh licences to private firms for 850 shops that will enter the retail business from November 17.
In view of this, all the private liquor vends were directed to shut down by September 30. The remaining liquor stores run by the Delhi government agencies will also wrap up business on November 16.
During this transition period of nearly one-and-half-month, only government-run shops will be open which is likely to cause a shortage and other problems.
In a statement, the Delhi government said the national capital is going to witness a transition phase in liquor management.
"However, the Delhi government is putting its best foot forward to ensure that the residents do not face much of a problem, " it said.
"Government-owned liquor shops have been instructed to make sure they have sufficient stocks to fulfil demands during this period. The liquor shops have been directed to release payments on time to suppliers so that the supply chains don't get choked," the statement said.
However, with privately-run shops selling out their stocks and making no fresh orders weeks in advance due to the September 30 deadline, consumers in many parts of the city had been complaining of a shortage.
"My neighbourhood shop had sold out its stock and started turning back customers after which I had to look to other shops in the area. If there is a further crisis, I will have to bring my liquor brand from Noida or Ghaziabad," said Laxmi Nagar resident Ramesh Kumar.
Naresh Goel, president of Delhi Liquor Traders Association, said private liquor vends in many areas are already shut after selling out stocks earlier this week.
"The shortage was visible today as private liquor vends shut shops leading to crowds and long queues outside government-owned vends," he claimed.
There are around 720 active liquor vends out of which nearly 260 or 40% are privately run.
The government expects that sufficient supply at government vends will prevent crowding.
"We expect that in a situation where sufficient supply is maintained, crowding or any other incidents will not take place. We want to reassure the public that they do not need to hoard or rush to stores in this situation as all government-owned shops will continue to function," its statement said.
Naresh Goel said the 260 private vends closing down from September 30, used to gross around Rs 20 crore in daily sales.
"Closure of these shops will create shortage besides revenue loss to the government. Also, thousands employed there will be rendered jobless," he said.
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 a 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 policy also provides for various facilities like wine tasting and a variety of brands for the consumers.
In the bidding of 850 liquor vends divided into 32 zones under the new excise policy, the government earlier this month earned around Rs 8,911 crore, against the base reserve licence fee of Rs 7,039 crore.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had earlier said the government expected revenue of Rs 10,000 crore after the implementation of the new policy.