States get a high as curbs ease: Booze sales trickle into empty coffers

States get a high as curbs ease: Booze sales trickle into empty coffers
People violate social distancing norms as they stand in a queue to buy alcohol during the ongoing COVID-19 nationwide lockdown at Jheel Khurenja in East Delhi on Tuesday. PTI

Bengaluru/New Delhi: After 40 days, coffers of the states got a high as authorities lifted the shutters of liquor dens. Nine states – Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh and Assam – opened up liquor shops on Monday.

Booze shops in Haryana and Telangana reopened on Wednesday, while outlets in Tamil Nadu, barring red zone of Chennai, will function from Thursday.

Many of these states have also imposed a steep COVID-19 tax, but this has not deterred booze lovers. Many places including Delhi saw riot-like situations due to overcrowding, prompting authorities to deploy police at liquor shops to manage the crowd.

Massive collection

According to Karnataka Excise Department, the state sold liquor worth Rs 242 crores in just two days.

On Monday, when sales resumed in the state, Rs 45 crore worth liquor was sold. On second day of liquor sales in the state after easing of lockdown curbs, it saw a nearly five-fold jump in earnings, with sales worth Rs 197 crore.

According to a top excise department official, 4.21 lakh cases of Indian-made liquor, comprising 36.37 lakh litres, worth Rs 182 crore and 7.02 lakh litres of beer in 0.90 lakh cases worth Rs 15 crore was sold on Tuesday alone.


"We had never expected such a record sale. It's unprecedented," an Excise official who did not wish to be named told PTI.

According to officials, Uttar Pradesh recorded Rs 100 crore in sales, which is a 40-50 per cent jump, on Monday. The average daily sale of liquor in the state is around Rs 70-80 crore. The officials have not yet revealed Tuesday's data.

However, the liquor sellers' association pegged the figures at over Rs 200 crore, adding that about 75 per cent of the amount would have come from the sale of Indian-Made Foreign Liquor or beer.

The Maharashtra government collected more than Rs 62.55 crore revenue in two days with just one third of the liquor shops in the state remaining open. An estimated 16.10 lakh litres of bottled IMFL, beer, wines and country liquor were sold in Maharashtra.

The state has over 10,000 licensed shops that sell country liquor, IMFL, wine and beer, of which merely 3,500 operated on Monday and Tuesday, the official said.

States get a high as curbs ease: Booze sales trickle into empty coffers
People stand in a long queue to purchase liquor from a shop at New Market area in Kolkata on Monday. PTI

West Bengal recorded liquor sales of Rs 40 crore on the first day of reopening of standalone shops on Monday.

With many states yet to release the data, the figures could go beyond Rs 1,000 crore.

Kerala and Punjab are yet to take a decision on reopening of the liquor outlets.

Huge demand

This has also reflected in the demand of liquor in the country. According to alcoholic beverages industry bodies, the country has been facing 20-30 per cent spike in demand after liquor sales were allowed from Monday.

Industry bodies such as the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC), the International Spirits and Wines Association of India (ISWAI) and the All India Brewers' Association (AIBA) said refilling stocks at retail outlets is a major challenge under the current circumstances due to several issues in supply chain and labour shortage.

The industry bodies are now asking state governments to allow them to operate more shifts at distilleries.

Spirits manufacturers, however, termed long queues outside liquor stores, as people in different parts of India braved the blazing sun, rains and even hailstorms in some parts to get hold of booze, a "temporary" phenomenon due to pent up demand.

(With PTI inputs)

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