Maharashtra liquor ban: Sale down 17% after Supreme Court ban, but excise income up 11%
Mumbai city news: About 65% of establishments selling alcohol were shut across the state, so govt was expecting much worsemumbai Updated: Jun 17, 2017 10:50 IST
The sale of the spirits and beer in the state fell in the first two months since the Supreme Court banned liquor shops within 500 meters of state and national highways on March 31.
The sale of liquor and beer fell by 17.38% in April and May from the corresponding two-month period last year, according to the figures collated by the excise department. The drop was much less than many expected, considering that about 65% of establishments that sell alcohol were shut after the court passed the order. According to the excise department’s figures, the sale of country liquor fell by 12.45%, foreign liquor by 18% and beer by 21.70%.
The excise department’s figures are in bulk litres – a traditional unit to measure commodities. One bulk litre is 0.83 litres. The sale of country liquor fell from 5.47 crore bulk litres to 4.79 crore bulk litres; foreign liquor from 3.09 crore bulk litres to 2.53 crore bulk litres; and beer from 7.44 crore bulk litres to 5.83 crore bulk litres.
Surprisingly, the state government’s revenue from state excise duty on liquor for April and May went up by 11% to Rs 1,849 crore in April and May from Rs 1,665 crore in the corresponding period last year.
Officials in the excise department said this was because the consumption of alcohol was barely affected by the closures. “Sales have risen considerably in outlets outside the 500-metre boundary. Besides that, the illegal sale of alcohol from houses, shops and vans near the outlets that were shut is in full swing. Some people who used to work for the closed establishments are reportedly engaged in the illegal sale of alcohol are they know the customers and are familiar with the government machinery,” said an official, who did not wish to be named.
After the Supreme Court’s order, 15,001 of 23,037 establishments selling alcohol – wine shops, country liquor shops, beer bars and beer shops – were shut down across the state from April 1.
The government was therefore expecting a revenue drop of more than 60%. It feared losses of up to Rs 7,000 crore from its estimated excise revenue of Rs 14,340 crore for 2017-18.