Delhi excise policy: New retail outlets to open from November 17 in Capital

The move, for the first time, will mark the exit of the Delhi government from the retail business of liquor under the new excise policy in the national capital.
Under the Delhi Excise Policy, 2021, the city has been divided into 32 zones and allotment of licenses is now being done on a zonal basis. (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Under the Delhi Excise Policy, 2021, the city has been divided into 32 zones and allotment of licenses is now being done on a zonal basis. (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Sep 12, 2021 12:21 AM IST
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By Sweta Goswami, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

All newly appointed liquor retailers in Delhi’s recently carved out 32 excise zones will have to start operations from November 17, the Delhi government said in an order issued on Friday night.

The move, for the first time, will mark the exit of the Delhi government from the retail business of liquor under the new excise policy in the national capital.

“...The Government of NCT of Delhi has approved the new Excise Policy 2021-22, which is being implemented and the new retail licenses are scheduled to start from November 17, 2021,” stated an order issued by the state excise department.

By appointing new retail licensees, the Delhi government is trying to pave the way for a range of sweeping reforms to boost the city’s revenue, to crack down on the liquor mafia and improve user experience under the new state excise policy. Under the Delhi Excise Policy, 2021, the city has been divided into 32 zones and allotment of licenses is now being done on a zonal basis. Those who have won a zone or two has been given L-7Z or L-7V licences which are meant for retail sale of Indian and foreign liquor (except country liquor) in Delhi.

The state excise department on June 10 had extended the validity of all existing retail licences — including L6, L6FG, L6FE/L-14 (beer license) — till September 30. The excise order on Friday has now extended its validity till November 16. However, country liquor vends will operate till March 31, 2022, until the new country liquor policy is framed.

After Friday’s order, all government liquor vends will operate only till November 16 -- one day prior to the scheduled date of commencement of business for new licenses (L-7Z). The opening of the new retail outlets will, however, be subject to payment of the proportionate license fee.

As of now, Delhi government agencies run nearly 60% of the total 850 retail liquor shops in the city. Friday’s order also stated that all licences for serving liquor on the premises -- L-11, L-15, L-16, L-17, L-18, L-19, L-20, L-28, L-29, covering restaurants, clubs and bars -- will continue to operate only till November 16. Similarly, all government country liquor vends holding licenses in the form of L-14 (beer license) will be valid only till November 16.

All wholesale licences -- L-1/L-1F and L-2 (draught beer) -- too will continue to operate till November 16, subject to payment of license fee under Rule 34 of the Delhi Excise Rules, 2010, said the order.

On August 5, the Delhi government conducted the first draw of lots to appoint liquor retail licensees in the national capital. While 20 companies have been appointed already for retail sale, the financial bids for the remaining 12 zones are expected to open next week, a senior excise officer said.

With the new policy, liquor shops in the Capital, in a first, will also be able to offer discounts, enabling festive season offers of the kind that are usually seen around Diwali on vehicles, electronics, and gift items.

The policy, among other things, also envisages five new super-premium liquor shops for high-value products and includes a rule that will require any liquor shop in the city to be at least 500 square feet in size. It gets rid of the iron grilles at the front of most liquor vends in the Capital, and allows buyers to browse and purchase the brands of their choice. For this, the shops have to be spacious, well lit and air-conditioned to allow customers a walk-in experience and must be under camera surveillance. Shop owners will have to ensure that liquor sale and pick-up takes place properly inside the shop premises and there is proper order outside. It also allows home delivery of liquor in the Capital through websites and apps.

A second senior excise official said the appointed licensees have now been asked to build their liquor vends, adding that a complete turnaround of customer experience will take some time as the retailers will need time to find land space and construct stores.

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Saturday, October 16, 2021