Delhi government liquor stores to stock up as private stores shut for 45 days

Delhi government officials also believe that the transition phase of 45 days is going to be tough.

As the festival season kicks into high gear, a third of the liquor shops in Delhi have shut down. All privately-run shops in the city have been shut and will remain so till November 16.

Behind the temporary closure is the Delhi government’s decision to completely exit the liquor business by mid-November.

There are 849 liquor stores in Delhi, of which 276 were privately run. The rest are operated by Delhi government’s agencies. The license of all these stores expired on October 1. It was renewed for government vends, but not for those run privately. This, however, is only a temporary arrangement.

As the new liquor policy of the Delhi government, which was notified earlier this year, is being implemented, a completely revamped system for tendering of liquor vends was followed. After November 16, liquor stores will be run exclusively by private entities and the government will exit the business completely.

But before this, there is a transition phase of 45 days, where a third of Delhi’s stores will be non-operational. The government has issued orders to its stores, which will remain open, to stock up.

“Delhi is going to witness a transition phase in the liquor management. However, the Delhi Government is putting its best foot forward to ensure that the residents do not face much of a problem. Government-owned liquor shops have been instructed to make sure they have sufficient stocks to fulfil the demand 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. 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,” the government said in a statement.

Stores are also being redistributed based on how many others there are in their vicinity. There are 280 wards in the city. Under the new policy, there will be an average of 3 liquor stores in each ward. At present, stores are unequally distributed. There are no stores in 80 wards, which the government says gives rise to bootlegging. The total number of stores in the city will remain the same.

Till November 16, though, not a single liquor shop will be open in over 100 wards in the city as there are no stores in 80 wards and only private-run stores in the remaining wards.

Several people observe restrictions on food and alcohol during certain rituals and festivals, and the sale of alcohol is generally low till Dusshera but, as per officials, sales zoom thereafter and remain high till the end of the year.

In the meanwhile, the stores will also be revamped to follow the new guidelines such as the sale window not opening onto the road, a minimum area requirement of 500 square feet among others.

Delhi government officials also believe that the transition phase of 45 days is going to be tough.

Our aim is to complete the transition by mid-November so that by December, which is when the highest alcohol sales are recorded, things are running smoothly. There will be some problems in the interim, but we are trying to make adequate arrangements at the government vend in the meanwhile,” said an official

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