The Ghaziabad residents gulped up liquor worth around Rs 1,500 crore during the last fiscal that gave the district a 'unique' distinction of earning the highest amount of tax revenue on account of liquor sales in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
In all, residents gobbled up over one crore bottles of beer, around 97.6 lakh bottles of foreign whisky and over 1.12 crore bottles of country-made liquor during the financial year 2010-11.
If one goes by the figures, the district earned around R452 crore as tax revenue out of sales and also from taxes earned from liquor shops during the fiscal.
On the other hand, the revenues earned during 2009-10 and 2008-09 were R380 crores and R336 crores, respectively.
"The tax revenue figure has placed the district on the top in the state. This is an increasing trend over the years," said district excise officer Hukum Singh.
Residents, however, feel differently. "There is no doubt that government's earnings have increased. But it is at the cost of lives of people, social fragmentation and increase in crime. These are not healthy signs for a society," said Vikrant Sharma, a resident of Rajinder Nagar.
Rajendra Tyagi, a municipal councillor and a social activist, feels that the government was acting like a 'liquor mafia' to promote liquor and issue of licenses to the liquor shops.
"We have a department which acts against various addictions while another promotes the liquor. The bureaucrats are made to obey orders to promote licenses and collect revenues. This should not be the duty of the government to promote such evils in a society," Tyagi said.
Upbeat by their collections and achievement of targets, excise officials said the sales saw a major surge during the recent cricket World Cup. At present Ghaziabad has around 460 outlets selling beer, foreign liquor, Indian made foreign liquor and country-made liquor.
An excise officer also said that Kanpur, Lucknow, Moradabad and Bareilley stood next to Ghaziabad in terms of tax collection from sale of liquor.