After Lockdown 3.0 kicked in, liquor shops were opened in many states of India, including UP with social distancing norms. Earlier this month, the timing to open liquor shops across the UP state was extended from 10 am to 9 pm according to the relaxations announced in the lockdown.
After being closed for more than 3 months, the state’s Excise and Prohibition Minister, Ram Naresh Agnihotri said that it will be a tough task to bring in the amount foregone due to the closure of liquor shops during the lockdown. The target set before the imposition of the lockdown was Rs 32,000 crore and the Uttar Pradesh government is all set to achieve its excise mop-up target.
After the opening of the shops, the government increased the rates on all liquor brands, and thus the revenue from it flooded in. Initially, the sales of the liquor were good and Uttar Pradesh recorded sales of over ₹100 crores in just one day and many shops had to shut down for the entire day as they ran out of stock. “But gradually, the sales came down and the reason highlighted for this is that most of the workers and migrants have returned to their respective homes and they do not have work/job. Without money, there cannot be any purchase, hence, there is a bit of a slump.” Agnihotri said.
The state is also fighting against another issue of the production of illicit liquor. The enforcement has been strengthened and all efforts are being taken to combat the production of illicit liquor although the complaints are “negligible” as of now. “However, this is a big problem, and it has to be consistently fought. The department will continue to fight this menace with full vigour,” he added.