300 liquor shops up for grabs in Gurugram
After introducing a slew of reforms in its new excise policy benefitting stakeholders in the liquor and hospitality industry, the Haryana government on Friday announced the auction of more than 300 liquor vends in the district through e-tenders on May 18 and 24, said officials in the know of the matter.
As part of the new excise policy announced on May 6, four liquor shops would be allowed to operate in each zone from the current two vends.
V K Beniwal, deputy commissioner of excise and taxation, Gurugram (east), said the city will get 300 more liquor shops from June onwards and that there can be more vends depending on the number of people bidding for the auction.
Earlier, there were 69 zones in the east area and 72 in the west; there were two liquor shops in each zone but the new liquor policy paves the way for four liquor shops in one zone. “No restrictions have been mentioned in the policy about the number of vends that can operate in an area, except for the schools and religious places. There can be as many as 10 shops in a 1km stretch. For rural areas, there is a distance of at least 2km between two liquor shops,” said Beniwal.
He added the decision to increase the number of shops has been taken to generate revenue as more players are likely to bid for liquor shops, given that the government has allowed both restaurants serving liquor and vends to operate throughout the day, subject to the condition of an additional licence fee payment, to prevent liquor patrons to flock to the Capital, which too has introduced many changes in its new excise policy.
Excise officials said there is a high demand for vends in areas such as Sohna Road, Golf Course Road, Golf Course Extension Road, DLF phases 2 and 3, Cyber City and MG Road. The maximum bids are for the vends at Mehrauli border, Sector 31, Golf Course Road and Galleria market.
Every year, the process of auctioning store licences begins in March. However, due to losses that businesses incurred due to the Covid restrictions last year, the department will hold the auctioning process in May. The Haryana government auctioned 282 store licences in Gurugram district through e-tenders last year and earned ₹788.87 crore for the 2021-22 fiscal, said officials.
The Haryana government has fixed the minimum selling price (MSP) of liquor, but there is no cap on maximum price, because of which liquor prices vary from one outlet to another. The concept of not standardising retail price gives a free hand to shopkeepers to sell at the prices they want to. This will increase competition between the shops, said excise officials.
Meanwhile, residents have raised concerns with the new excise policy, especially with regard to the increase in the liquor shops and allowing them to stay open throughout the day. Rajeev Sinha, president of Essel Tower Residents Welfare Association, said there are already four liquor vends on the 1.5km stretch of MG Road, resulting in a law and order situation. “We are already facing issues with the pub, bars and clubs operating on the stretch and the nuisance, which unfolds at night. Increasing the number of liquor vends will make the stretch inaccessible to residents,” said Sinha.
He added open drinking is a major problem outside liquor shops and there have been many episodes of people getting involved in brawls after getting drunk. “These swanky looking liquor shops adversely influence children and if more such vends come up, it will become difficult for women and children to move about in the area,” he said.
Residents of MG Road said they are planning to protest against the move to keep liquor shops open round the clock and increase the number of vends.
Gaurav Wahi, a resident of DLF Phase 2, said, “The new policy will not only encourage alcohol consumption among youngsters but also lead to law and order problems. Most of these stores keep bouncers to manage the crowd and there has reportedly been an increase in brawls outside these shops,”he said.
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