Two months after the Supreme Court allowed establishments, which are located on stretches of state and national highways but are within city limits, to start serving alcohol again, consumption and revenue figures of alcohol are almost back to normal in Pune.
In December 2016, after the Supreme Court had banned the sale of alcohol within 500 metres of state and national highways, more than 1,600 of the 2,500 licensed establishments in the district were forced to shut shop.
Most of the establishments that were affected by the SC verdict were located on arterial roads like Karve Road and J M Road, but were forced to shut down as these roads were part of either state or national highways. The alcohol ban had also seen sales dip by over 20 per cent, while revenue collection was also hit significantly.
In August this year, the apex court allowed establishments within city limits to function, but the official notification from the state government was issued only in the first week of September.
Numbers from the office of the Superintendent of Excise, Pune, show that the sale of all kinds of alcohol — country liquor, Indian Manufactured Foreign Liquor (IMFL), beer and wine — have come back to their pre-ban levels.
By the end of September, 106.05 lakh litres of country liquor, 134.71 lakh litres of IMFL, 226.56 litres of beer and 5.75 lakh litres of wine had been sold. With the exception of wine sales, these figures are lower than last year’s September-end sales figures (see box).
On the other hand, the amount collected by the excise department in revenues has been better in September and October this year — Rs 122.47 crore and Rs 128.94 crore respectively — compared to the collections in the same period last year, which were Rs 106.70 crore and Rs 125.67 crore.
Superintendent of Excise, Pune, Mohan Varde, said sales and revenue figures of alcohol are gradually coming back to normal as business gradually gets back on track. Since the ban was lifted, Varde’s office has seen 10-12 new applications for new establishments. “We have also written to the establishments in the newly-merged villages within the corporation limits, telling them that they can now reopen their shops after paying the license fees,” he said.
However, hoteliers have said that they are facing a staff crunch, making operations difficult. Ganesh Shetty, president of the Pune Hoteliers Association, said most of their staff had left after the SC verdict in December. “We are in touch with them and hopefully they will be back by December,” he said, adding that the absence of adequate staff has hit the functioning of many establishments.