New Delhi: As Delhi transits into the new excise regime, a shortage of liquor across the city has led to a rush in the neighbouring states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, along with the rise in black marketeering of liquor among the city’s tipplers.
The city tipplers’ rush to Gurgaon and Uttar Pradesh has inflated the price of alcohol in these two cities. A bottle of whiskey which earlier cost about Rs 1300 in Gurgaon now costs about Rs 1500 to Rs 1700, depending on the place and the stocks these liquor shops have. In Uttar Pradesh, regular drinkers are having to shell out more than what they used to when liquor was widely available in Delhi.
Manpreet Singh, who had gone to Gurgaon to fetch his stock of alcohol for the week, told The Sunday Guardian that since he had searched at about five places in Delhi and found no luck to lay his hands on some bottles of whiskey, he was forced to come to Gurgaon and purchase the same at a higher rate. “I have a get-together at my place for a friend’s wedding next week, but then Delhi has run out of liquor. The new liquor stores which were supposed to open from Tuesday are still not ready, leaving us with no option but to come to Delhi,” Manpreet said.
Another liquor buyer who did not wish to be identified angrily said that the Delhi government should have made enough provisions before it switched on to the new liquor license regime. “The liquor crisis in Delhi is being witnessed for the last one month. The government liquor shops had run out of stocks and this has been forcing people to buy liquor of only a select few brands that was available to them, since they were not replenishing their stocks. The Delhi government brought this policy without making necessary arrangements,” the liquor buyer told this correspondent.
Not only are city tipplers rushing to these neighbouring states to fetch their share of stock of alcohol, they are also falling prey to the black marketeers who have either hoarded some stocks of alcohol or are getting it in Gurgaon and selling them in Delhi at a premium price. This correspondent visited at least three places in Delhi on Wednesday and Thursday evening where people have been selling alcohol from their homes, which are mostly in shanties or are located in the congested by lanes of the city.
The one located on the Outer Ring Road of Delhi was being operated from a small shanty and some three to four people were seen standing outside the house of that person, who quietly comes and takes the order and then after a couple of minutes, comes back from his house and hands over the order. The price that he charges for a bottle of whiskey is at least 50% more than that of the retail price of that brand of whiskey in the open market.
Another such well-known place among tipplers is located in Central Delhi’s Tank Road near Karol Bagh, which witnesses a massive footfall once the night falls. The Sunday Guardian spoke to a couple of people waiting there to get their hands on a bottle for themselves and almost all said that they have been forced to come here because all the liquor shops in Delhi have been closed and that they have no other option but to buy it from the black market.
Delhi from Wednesday has shifted to the new excise regime through which the Delhi government has excited the liquor business and has made provisions for private players to enter the liquor trading business in the national capital. Under the new excise regime, the Delhi government has proposed to set up 870 swanky looking liquor shops across 32 zones that the city has been divided into. The Delhi government earlier operated about 600 liquor vends across the city while the private players operated about 250 such shops.
However, the new shops which were supposed to be operational from Wednesday are either not ready or have not been provided with stocks by wholesalers to start their operations. Out of the total 850 new shops that are to be opened, only 250 will start operations in the coming months.
Current liquor shop owners say that they have already put in requests with their wholesalers for furnishing them with stocks, but they are yet to receive their stocks. Some of these shops are yet to be ready and interior works are underway in these shops. Many new licence holders say that it would take at least another two months or for that matter till January next year for the liquor availability to normalise in the city.