16 of 32 Delhi excise zones auctioned to retail licensees
The Delhi government on Thursday held a draw of lots to appoint liquor retail licensees in each of its newly demarcated 32 excise zones in the national capital. By the time the draw was adjourned at 7.40pm, 16 of the 32 zones were auctioned off with the highest bid for a single zone going up to ₹315 crore, about 45% higher than the reserve price set by the state excise department.
The Delhi government, on June 28, floated tenders for appointing new licensees for the retail sale of liquor in the national capital. Following the tendering process, on Thursday, all 32 zones were put up for auction for the first time. Twelve zones were cancelled or disqualified from the auction process as they had just one or no bidder. The remaining four zones will be auctioned on Friday as the process could not be completed on Thursday, despite the auctioning starting around 11am and continuing till 7.40pm.
Under the Delhi Excise Policy, 2021, the city has been divided into 32 zones and allotment of licences is now being done on a zonal basis. Those who won a zone on Thursday will now be given L-7Z or L-7V licences which are meant for retail sale of Indian and foreign liquor (except country liquor) in Delhi.
Zone 31, which is the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and Delhi Cantonment area, garnered the highest price of ₹315 crore, against a reserve price was ₹217 crore. However, this was not the zone which earned the government the highest profit. That was Zone 32, or the airport zone, which went for ₹235 crore against a reserve price of ₹105 crore — about 124% higher than the reserve price.
Zone 19 — covering Daryaganj, Swarup Nagar, GTB Nagar, Gopal Nagar, Chhatarpur, Chittaranjan (CR) Park, Snagam Vihar, Chandni Chowk and Nand Nagri — was sold for ₹313 crore, while its reserve price was ₹225 crore. Zone 29 — covering Safdarjung Enclave, Hauz Khaz, Kotla Mubarakpur, Ashok Nagar, Rohtash Nagar, Kirari Wazirpur and so on— was auctioned for ₹301 crore, against the reserve price of ₹225 crore.
The zones which saw the lowest bids, against their reserve price included Zone 13 at ₹236 crore (Malviya Nagar, Karol Bagh, Delhi Gate); Zone 27 at ₹235 crore (Tilak Nagar, Karampura, Karawal Nagar East, Khanjawla); and Zone 23 at ₹234 crore (Uttam Nagar, Mayur Vihar Phase 1, Rohini-C, Vishwas Nagar). It is to be noted that all figures given in this report have been rounded off.
By appointing new retail licensees, the Delhi government is trying to pave the way for a range of sweeping reforms to boost the city-state’s revenue, to crack down on the liquor mafia and improve user experience under the new excise policy.
The zones for which the draw will be held on Friday include Zone 20 (Rajinder Nagar, Model Town, Rajouri Garden), Zone 4 (Greater Kailash, Malka Ganj, Aman Vihar), Zone 26 (Dilshad Colony, Shahdara, Kalkaji) and Zone 17 (Bijwasan, Adarsh Nagar, Rohini-F).
The 12 zones that were disqualified due to lack of bidders include Zone 2, Zone 3, Zone 9, Zone 16 and so on. These zones will have to be re-tendered now, senior excise officials said.
Under the new policy, business hours have been fixed as from 10am to 10pm, while those at the airport may open round-the-clock. This development is significant because as per the new excise policy, the Delhi government will completely exit the retail sale of liquor. So, all existing retail licences — L6, L6FG, L6FE — will not be renewed after September 30, unless extended further, as these were meant for government liquor vends. However, country liquor vends will operate till the new country liquor policy is framed.
Naresh Goyal, a liquor trader and president of Delhi liquor traders association said the most of companies that won the bids are names that are unheard of in the liquor business in Delhi. “There were several pharmaceutical companies and agro-based companies that won the bids today. But, a large chunk of the zones got cancelled because there were few bidders. The reason for the tepid response is the high earnest money deposit (EMD) that the government is asking for. Fresh tenders will have to be floated for the cancelled zones now,” he said.
Bidders have to pay a non-refundable fee of ₹10 lakh and an EMD of ₹30 crore, if applying for a single zone; and ₹60 crore as EMD, if bidding for two or more zones. Until now, the EMD was ₹8 lakh only.