Delhi went unofficially dry on Monday with no alcohol being served at hotels, clubs and bars and all liquors vends keeping their shutters down after their excise licenses expired on July 31.
This was after the Delhi government on Sunday decided to extend the retail licenses for a month. The Excise department will issue an order to this effect after Lt Governor V K Saxena’s nod to the Delhi Cabinet decision.
With liquor stores closed, employees loitered around talking to customers waiting eagerly outside vends to reopen.
“We have no idea when the order will come. Even if it comes today, there is no stuff in the shop tp sell,” said a liquor vend employee near ITO.
A zonal license holder said there was still uncertainty as the order by Excise department was delayed.
“Since the government made the announcement of reverting to old excise policy regime, we were in the process of wrapping up business.
“We are the worst sufferers as despite investing huge amount, we are forced to quit retail sale of liquor within months,” he said.
Under the new excise policy 2021-22, the Delhi government had issued 849 retail licenses across the city divided into 32 zones. The policy was implemented from November 17, 2021.
A restaurateur charged that there seemed to be “administrative incompetence” of “highest level” on the part of the government which has led to the situation.
“if they wanted to extend the license, they should have done it earlier. First, they took back the new excise policy and decided to run vends through their agencies and now one month extension is being given thinking nothing about losses we will suffer with no business to do,” he said.
Around 468 liquor stores were running in the city as the government decided to revert back to old excise policy.
Meanwhile, the Delhi government has extended licenses of country liquor vends by two months till September 30 as fresh tenders are yet to be finalised, officials said on Monday.
The Excise department of Delhi government, in an order issued on Saturday, extended the licenses of over 250 country liquor shops in the city.
“The extension is subject to payment of pro-rata fee for the extension period,” said the order.
Tenders for country liquor license were floated twice in recent months.
On the first occasion, the tender failed to attract adequate number of bidders while the excise department scrapped it the second time after finding out that bidders were “pooling” to keep the bids low, they added.