Why did Delhi’s ‘promising’ new liquor policy fail? | WeForNews

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Delhi’s new alcohol policy had promised a complete overhaul not only of alcohol sales, but also its consumption in the capital.

But the policy was withdrawn within eight months of its rollout amid allegations of corruption and favoritism in liquor licensing. Delhi is now set to revert to the old excise policy regime from September 1.

The new excise policy which was implemented from November 17 last year has been harshly criticized by the opposition and industry experts for many reasons.

Under the new policy, retail licenses were issued to private bidders for 849 sales across the city, divided into 32 zones. Criticizing the policy, the opposition filed complaints with the lieutenant governor in addition to urging central agencies to open an investigation into the matter.

Incidentally, 11 of the 32 zonal liquor retailers gave up their licenses for unsustainable businesses due to declining revenues and unfair competition.

The people of Delhi are facing alcohol shortage of their choice as there is a shortage of supply at many outlets across the city.

Only about 460 stores are currently operating in the nation’s capital, which needs about 850 outlets to serve its residents.

Many provisions of the new excise policy, such as lowering the age limit for alcohol consumption, bars and restaurants open until 3 a.m., and door-to-door alcohol delivery, could not be implemented due to opposition protests.

Due to the protests in several places in the city, the rollout of the scheme was slow and furthermore the vendors were facing losses as they had already grabbed their respective licenses in the bidding process.

“The excise policy was and is fundamentally good. It takes a different and progressive look at the sale and consumption of alcohol, worthy of a modern metropolis that is Delhi. However, implementation on the ground failed. It was too slow, in patches and unable to break with the historical bureaucratic apathy towards trade. Also, the size of the zones was too big,” an industry expert said on condition of anonymity.

However, the national capital is expected to revert to the old excise policy regime from September 1 for a period of six months until a new excise policy is implemented. Under the old excise policy, four state corporations – DSIIDC, DTTDC, DCCWS and DSCSC – will once again have a major hand in running the liquor business in the city.

According to the sources, the four companies will be given the responsibility of opening liquor stores across the city. Delhi will have 500 liquor stores from next month to serve consumers.

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