The AAP government granted over 400 liquor licences under various categories since it came to power, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav on Saturday alleged, terming Arvind Kejriwal’s “promise” to discourage and reduce booze consumption in Delhi a “farce”.
Yadav alleged “irregularities” in granting licences to open retail vends in shopping malls (L10) and departmental stores (L12). The “real game” lies there, he told a press conference, and said he will expose it soon.
Yadav, who was expelled from AAP for alleged anti-party activities, said that the Delhi government under AAP spent a measly Rs 16,000 on de-addiction drives. The figure, he claimed, were taken from official records.
“The government gave four different replies to four RTI queries on liquor shops. But on digging deep we found that a startling 399 new licences have been granted till August 10. It must have crossed 400 by now,” Yadav said.
As per data provided by Abhiyan, the number of L10 (retail vend of Indian and foreign liquor in shopping malls or airport) and L12 (retail vend of beer and wine in departmental stores) licences that have been granted since February 2015 are 67 and 69 respectively.
It further claimed that 227 L17 (service of Indian liquor at independent restaurant) have been issued in the same period.
Taking a swipe at Kejriwal, Yadav said it was ironical that the same person harped on the importance of taking consent of the people and especially women, in his book ‘Swaraj’, before opening new liquor shops.
Yadav also played out video clips of Kejriwal purportedly making a similar promise during campaigning for the assembly election.
He said the Delhi government’s recent move to empower mohalla sabhas in this regard was an eyewash as these bodies, numbering around 3000, have not even been notified for them to have any legal standing.
Rebel AAP MLA (Timarpur) Pankaj Pushkar, who had moved a breach of privilege notice against Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia accusing him of resorting to “falsehoods” on the issue, said he does not want Delhi to turn into a ‘bazaar’ of alcohol.
Yadav also repeatedly stressed that Abhiyan was not advocating prohibition in the national capital, saying such drastic measures do more harm than good. Gradual mitigation and reduction are to be adopted, he said, adding that liquor has been linked to violence against women.
At Rs 3,589 crore, the government earned an excess of Rs 600 crore in 2015-16 from liquor sales as against the previous financial year, he said.
Pushkar argued, contrary to Sisodia’s replies to his starred questions, the excise rules, even before the recent amendments, had provisions for consultation with the local public and the MLA before granting of licences to open new liquor stores.
Under the new excise policy announced by the AAP dispensation, no new liquor store, except in malls (L10), will be allowed in Delhi in the current financial year. It has also empowered the mohalla sabhas, which await a formal notification, to shift stores over complaints of nuisance.
The one-year moratorium on granting new licences was aimed at the Punjab and Goa polls, alleged Yadav. He demanded the immediate closure of 11 new shops opened recently and a white paper on the liquor situation in the city.
“The government is flaunting L6 (retail vend of Indian liquor in public sector) licence figure. The real game lies in granting of L10 and L12 licences. And it points towards Uttarakhand,” Yadav said, not elaborating further.