Three days after the state permitted home delivery of alcohol to avoid overcrowding outside liquor shops, 5,434 orders were placed in Maharashtra on Friday, the first day. Of this, 88 per cent of the orders were received from the districts of Nagpur and Latur.
State Excise Commissioner Kantilal Umap said: “Of the total, Nagpur alone accounted for 2,700 orders. Latur saw another 2,100 orders being placed.” Almost 95 per cent of the orders were for purchase of hard liquor, he added.
For now, the Nagpur and Latur municipal corporations, both of which permitted liquor sales for the first time on Friday, have restricted sales to home deliveries only. “This was also one of the reasons for the high number of bookings in these districts,” said an official.
While retail liquor shops are now running in 26 of the 36 districts in the state, home delivery orders in other areas were few and far between on the first day. “It is still early days. There were some teething issues. In some mofussil areas, wine and beer shops had difficulty in locating a doctor who can issue fitness certificates to the delivery boys. In some other cases, shopowners said they have found it difficult to recruit additional staff,” said Umap, adding the activity is being monitored at the district level.
A senior state official said the first day’s trend was on expected lines. “We expect home deliveries to be a more popular option in the cities. In semi urban and rural belts, where there is not much crowding, we feel people will prefer going to shops,” the official said.
The excise department is hoping that stores in Mumbai are allowed to resume liquor sales soon. “Home deliveries should pick up a lot more once Mumbai and other municipal corporations in Mumbai Metropolitan Region allow the same,” said a senior official.
Parbhani, another district that is yet to allow liquor shops to open, has decided to only permit home deliveries from May 18. The local administration has made prior registrations mandatory for all those who want to place orders.
Till Friday evening, records show that 4,935 liquor vends – 530 wine shops, 2,129 beer shops and 1,938 country liquor shops – were operational in the state.
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