Maharashtra reported sale of at least 5 lakh litres of liquor after the government allowed the functioning of standalone retail liquor shops. There were long queues outside these shops in various parts of the state. An exact sales figure was not immediately available.
Usually, Maharashtra reports around 24 lakh litres of liquor sales per day but on Monday, the sale was only about one-fourth of that.
As India entered the third phase of a lockdown induced by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, one of the relaxations by the Ministry of Home Affairs was the opening of standalone liquor stores in places that are not containment areas, including red zones of cities. Till late on Sunday, there was lack of clarity if the order would be applicable in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad.
People in the two cities started queuing up outside liquor shops since Monday morning even in the absence of clarity about when the shops would open. Most of the shops opened only by the evening.
A senior officer from the excise department, who did not want to be named, said the state reported “around five to six lakh litres of sales on the day”.
The officer said, “It was expected that sales would resume in 20 districts. Seventeen district collectors had granted permission for the shops to open.”
Excise and sales tax on alcohol are major revenue sources for the government. The state collects around Rs 2,600 crore in revenue from liquor sales. The decision behind reopening the shops had much to do with dwindling revenue.
Liquor manufacturers pay the government excise duty and sales tax once their produce leaves for godowns of wholesalers. At present, the stock being sold was produced in February and the levies were thus paid back then.
Meanwhile, manufacturing of liquor has been restarted in rural parts of the state. For instance, it restarted in Walunj MIDC in Aurangabad, Baramati MIDC in Pune district and some other pockets.