Benjamin Franklin said beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. But as the summer of 2009 holds Delhi by the collar, lovers of the beverage in the city are feeling a little let down.
Popular foreign brands of beer that are bottled in India have disappeared from shelves and there’s no sign of fresh stocks coming in.
So has the liquor God’s love for Delhi’s beer guzzlers suddenly waned?
The fault lies in the failure of the beer companies to renew their licences . Some of the brands that have vanished from the capital are Carlsberg, Cobra and Smirnoff. But Indian brands like Kingfisher and Godfather are available across the city.
Delhi’s Collector, Excise, Sanjeev Ahuja blamed the beer companies for the brands going off the shelf.
“We have clearly told the companies that it will take a month to renew the licences. Some companies submitted their applications at the last moment, which led to this situation,” he said.
The dearth of popular beer brands this summer is a result of the change in excise policy. Till recently, the liquor companies were required to renew their licences for sale of brands before a definite date. But the policy was changed to allow liquor companies to renew their licences at their will provided they fulfilled the new excise policy criteria.
Liquor vends managers say this led to 60-70 per cent of the brands going off the shelves in the first week of April, after companies failed to renew their licence.
“The most hit are the locally bottled foreign brands,” a manager at a Connaught Place liquor vend, who was not willing to be quoted, said.
This has also resulted in some dip in revenue earnings from beer, he added.
With the Delhi government’s excise department suddenly getting licence renewal requests from many companies, there was some delay in awarding new L-1 licenses, an official said.
The good news, however, is that the popular beer brands will be back in Delhi market by first week of May. And beer buffs can finally sip their favourite beer and thank Benjamin Franklin’s god.