Confusion over sale of liquor in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur

Liquor Shop

Even after an expectation that liquor outlets in Mumbai, Nagpur and Pune would be opened in certain designated areas from Monday, a day after the state government said shops of non-essential items, including liquor, will be allowed to open in COVID-19 non-containment zones, but to the dismay of the customers, they remained shut.

The confusion was apparently due to a contradictory communication from the excise department while a senior officer claimed that no order has been issued to keep these liquor shops closed.

In Nagpur, the Nagpur Municipal Corporation commissioner, Tukaram Munde in his revised order didn’t permit to open liquor shops in the city area. It is the civic body’s decision and there are no such instructions from the Nagpur district collector, which would mean liquor sale is prohibited in the city limits but allowed in rural areas. Earlier, Solapur, Aurangabad, Jalna, Buldhana and Amravati districts have issued instructions that liquor shops will not be allowed to open.

The state power is not permitting to open liquor shops in major cities when Maharashtra excise department is staring at Rs 2,700 crore revenue losses in the last 40 days due to COVID-19 lockdown. Liquor is a major source of revenue for Maharashtra, which earned about Rs 45,000-crore in the form of taxes on it in 2019-20. If the situation remains the same, it would badly affect the state exchequer in the coming days.

As there was the renewal of liquor licences at the beginning of this month, the government expected to earn about Rs 800 crore to 900 crores additionally. According to our estimation, more than Rs 2,700 crore revenue has been lost due to lockdown, a senior excise officer, who preferred to be anonymity, claimed.

Administrations of Solapur, Aurangabad, Jalna, Buldhana and Amravati districts have issued instructions that liquor shops will not be allowed to open. The decision is taken in adherence to the Disaster Management Act, and to prevent any further spread of the coronavirus infection, officials stated.

Moreover, several liquor manufacturing and bottling units located in Aurangabad can resume production, but the district administration has prohibited its sale.