Amid the ongoing turmoil over Delhi’s 2021-22 excise policy, operators of liquor vends in Delhi said they faced the brunt of a political tussle between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and lost crores of rupees in the process, adding that stores were facing operational troubles for several months.
A spot check by HT on Saturday showed that most liquor stores across Delhi had shut shop, with few owners willing to wade into the ongoing tug-of-war over the beleaguered policy. In the shops that were still open, retailers were rushing to clear stock ahead of August 31, after which the state will revert to the previous excise policy and all liquor stores will be run by the government.
The manager of a liquor vend in central Delhi who asked not to be named said private companies had invested lots of money in buying and modifying properties as well as applying for expensive licenses in the hopes of a good business, but said they faced hurdles at every step.
“Many shops could not open in the first place, there was resistance from residents in many areas and then the rules about the discounts started changing. Many people who decided to come into the business have lost a lot despite no fault on their part,” the person said.
Most shops in Delhi are now working overtime to clear stocks and cut their losses before September.
Two such liquor vends were found in south Delhi’s Munirka with trucks unloading the last batches of bulk liquor orders.
A liquor sales manager in the neighbourhood said that the focus is now on clearing stocks. “We are just trying to minimise our losses and ensure that all stocks are cleared. The shop will be shut in the next week and a government vend is expected to come up here,” the manager said.
Another shop near RK Puram said they could not operate properly all year.
“We have moved close to the operational end point and have not been offering any discounts. We have been facing operational troubles throughout the year,” the salesperson said.
Despite the one-month extension offered to liquor shops, several stores have opted to down their shutters, and just around 200 vends are now open in Delhi. Most licensees across the city have surrendered their permits, leaving major chunks of the Capital dry, forcing them to head to neighbouring Gurugram or Noida to stock up on liquor.
Meanwhile, restaurants and bars in Delhi also said they are facing a liquor supply crunch, which may be a problem ahead of the festive season.
Sandeep Anand Goyle, a member of the managing committee of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) said, “We understand that this is a transition phase. The industry is keeping its fingers crossed that stocks and brand availability will improve after September 1. The transition needs to be smooth as we will soon be approaching the festive season,” he said.