Seven months after it decided not to issue fresh liquor licences to restaurants in the capital, the Delhi government has lifted the ban and said the process to issue new licences will begin from Friday. The decision has come as a major relief to restaurant owners, who have been struggling hard to sustain their ventures. Sources in the excise department told The Indian Express that the process to issue fresh licences to restaurants has begun. However, liquor vends (public or private) will not get new licences, sources said.
“The government has given its approval. The process of inspection and issuing notices to those who applied for fresh liquor licences will begin from tomorrow. Many owners had put in a lot of investment into their restaurants on the assumption that they would be able to serve liquor… When the decision was made to not issue fresh licences, they were distraught,” a source in the government said.
Sources said the decision was made as the government was convinced that barring restaurants from serving liquor would serve no purpose, as people would drink at other places and cause problems. “If restaurants don’t serve liquor, then people will buy it from vends and indulge in drinking in public. With a limited number of restaurants having a liquor licence, and the growing demand for alcohol, people will find other places to drink. It is better that they drink in a controlled environment with food,” a source said. In October last year, Swaraj India and the BJP alleged that more liquor vends had been opened during the AAP government’s tenure. Following the accusations, the government had stopped issuing licences.
The decision left many entrepreneurs in a limbo as close to 50 owners had submitted applications for issuance of fresh licences. The National Restaurants Association of India also sent many representations to the government and the Lt-Governor.