With the Supreme Court setting July 31 as the deadline for liquor companies to shift their stocks out of Bihar, godowns belonging to the state beverages corporation, where alcohol belonging to at least three dozen companies has been stored since March 2016, are sending reminders to companies to remove their stocks. Ara depot, one of the 32 such in Bihar, has liquor worth over Rs 10 crore.
Baldev Saw (58), Ara depot manager, Bihar State Beverages Corporation.
1. What is your alcohol inventory?
We have 12,558 cases of IMFL liquor and 8,997 cases and 60 bottles of beer at our godowns. We used to get liquor from 37 companies in Bihar and outside and sold them to retailers. We charge a fine of Rs 2 per case per day from companies that leave their stock with us after a 60-day period.
2. What would you do if companies flout the court deadline?
We will abide by the court’s instructions as alcohol cannot be kept in Bihar after prohibition. But it is for the Excise Department, that sealed the depot, to shift or dispose of the alcohol, in line with what the government or courts rule.
3. Why have liquor companies not reclaimed their stock?
Liquor companies have gone to court seeking compensation for the alcohol that has not been sold. We find it preposterous as we could not have sold it to retailers in the short period that we got before the liquor ban was enforced.
4. Why can’t the companies sell their stock elsewhere?
Companies say that as the bottles read ‘for sale only in Bihar’, it is difficult to find buyers outside. They would have to change the bottles or reprint the bottle covers, which would incur cost.
5. Is it difficult to guard the stock?
There have been two burglaries to take the stock. In April 2016, thieves cut through the back door and took away a few cases. On March 26, 2016, burglars made away with 91 cases and 51 bottles. Now we have three excise police constables, two special auxiliary police jawans besides three police jawans at the godown.