Private liquor shops will be a thing of the past in the capital as they will be replaced by over 300 Delhi government vends from Thursday owing to the switch over from the Excise Policy 2021-22 to the old regime, officials said on Wednesday.
Nearly 250 private liquor vends, licensed under now-withdrawn Excise Policy 2021-22, are running currently in the city.
Some of the private vends having stocks saw crowd outside as they offered schemes like buy one to get one free.
The Excise department had already notified the private licensees that they will not be allowed in retail liquor sale beyond August 31.
People thronged a vend near Welcome Metro station to avail the buy one get one free scheme.
According to officials, the rebates and schemes offered earlier under Excise Policy 2021-22 will not be available as liquor stores will be opened by government undertakings from Thursday.
The six shops at domestic terminal of IGI airport run by private operators will be shut on Thursday, hampering availability. Liquor will be available at duty free shops of the airport, they said.
The number of private liquor vends under the Excise Policy 2021-22 had gone up to around 650 but later, the license holders surrendered their licenses due to different reasons, including restriction on opening stores in non-conforming areas in the city.
The Excise Policy 2021-22 was withdrawn by the Delhi government last month, after LG VK Saxena recommended a CBI probe into alleged irregularities in its implementation.
The Excise officials said the liquor supply will improve from first week of September due to opening of more shops.
"Currently, there are nearly 250 private shops that will be replaced by over 300 government vends. So there will be more shops and the number will grow further in the coming days as 500 shops are planned to be opened by four Delhi government undertakings," said a senior Excise department officer.
Several government vends will be located in malls and near Metro stations.
The Delhi government undertakings -- Delhi Tourism And Transportation Development Corporation Limited, Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation, Department of Delhi State Civil Supplies Corporation Limited and Delhi Consumer's Cooperative Wholesale Store Ltd -- have been given a target to open 700 liquor shops in the city by end of this year, according to the officials.
A mobile app mAbkaridelhi developed by the Excuse department will become operational from September providing consumers information about location of liquor stores in their neighbourhood and shop timings.
The government agencies have also managed to open shops in New Delhi Municipal Council areas after the civic body had earlier rejected a proposal for opening shops there.
The government undertakings have managed to set up liquor stores at rented premises in G Block Connaught Place, Gole Market, Khan Market, Yashwant Place among others, said the officials.
A senior Excise officer said over 360 liquor brands were registered as per the old excise regime that was in operation before November 17, 2021 when the Excise Policy 2021-22 became functional.
However, some liquor traders claimed that many popular brands with large sale volume were yet to be registered by the Excise department.
"There are likely to be some teething problems as the switch over from private to government vends takes place but the situation is expected to stabilise with more brand registration and more shops opening in coming days," said the excise department officer.
With Delhi returning back to old excise policy regime, the city will also see the promotion of draught beer. Excise department has also issued licenses to three to four microbreweries that will start working from first week of September, said Excise officials.
"There are plans to promote draught beer by setting up microbreweries in Delhi as there is a significant demand in the segment. More microbreweries will come up in the near future," an Excise official said.
The government had issued zonal licences to private bidders for 849 liquor vends across the city under the Excise Policy, 2021-22. Nearly half of them had surrendered their licenses in June-July.
Vinod Giri, director general, Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies said despite best efforts by the authorities and the industry, initial days of going back to the old excise policy is not going to be easy.
On the positive side, many L1 licenses are in place, around 240-260 outlets are likely to start from day one, which will go up to 500 within a month, he said.
Noting that stocks are already filling up in retail, he said, consumers may find some popular products, especially imported ones, missing from shelves as they are yet to register, nor is there a clarity when will they register.
"This will impact hotels, pubs, bars and restaurants where such products are popular. Prices will also go back up as discounts are not permitted," he said.
The switchover of liquor sale to all government retail outlets has led to some unforeseen and unwarranted outcomes, he said.
These are transition pains out of extremely short changeover period. We hope government maintains intensity to resolve these without any delay, he said.