New high for alcohol sales in Maharashtra this April compared to April 2017
Sale of spirits, beer, wine and country liquor in the state witnessed a quantum jump in April this year as compared to the sales figure in the corresponding month last year. While sale of spirits saw a 35.39 per cent increase, the sale of country liquor rose by 27.6 per cent. Sale of beer saw a 14.26 per cent jump, while wine saw the highest increase, with an increase of 42.96 per cent when compared to figures of April 2017.
Explaining the reasons for the increase in sales this year, a senior state Excise official said April 2017 was the first month following the Supreme Court ban on liquor sale within 500 metres of highways, which came into effect on March 31, 2017.
As a result of the court ban, 12,954 outlets selling liquor (including wine shops, beer parlours, permit rooms, bars, restaurants) had to close down. That was more than 50 per cent of the total 25,003 outlets that operated previously across the state. “The result of the closure of such large number of outlets was witnessed the very next month when the consumption figures dropped by 20 per cent as compared to the previous months,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
Sources in the state excise department told HT that with a total consumption of around 1.61 crore bulk litres in April this year, sale of spirits witnessed a 35.39 per cent increase as compared to the sale/consumption figures in the corresponding month last year, which stood at 1.18 crore bulk litres. Spirits include whisky, rum, gin, brandy, vodka and other hard liquor.
The volume of consumption of country liquor was 2.9 crore bulk litres in April 2018, which was 27.6 per cent higher than the 2.27 crore bulk litre sale recorded in the same month last year. As compared to spirits and country liquor, consumption of beer witnessed a moderate 14.26 per cent jump. While in April 2017, beer consumption figures stood at 2.76 crore bulk litres, the figure was 3.15 crore bulk litres this April.
Interestingly, consumption/sale of wine had recorded the maximum increase among all alcoholic beverages. While in April 2017, 3.83 lakh bulk litres had been sold, the figure in the corresponding month this year stood at 5.48 lakh litre, recording a jump of 42.96 per cent.
The drop in sales that began in April 2017 continued for the next couple of months, before the norms were relaxed in July 2017 excluding outlets within municipal limits from the purview of the ban. However, despite the relaxation, 7,300 outlets did not resume business. Even today, 3,149 outlets still remain shut.
Interestingly, despite the drop in sales, the government had earned ₹9,090 crore as tax on liquor sales between April and December 2017, which was 5 percent more than the tax collected in the corresponding period in 2016 (₹8,638 crore). The increase owed much to the 12.5 per cent additional levy imposed on country liquor in December 2016 and advance tax collected from breweries and distilleries, sources pointed out.