The district administration is all set to give a nasty hangover to errant wine shop and bar owners in the twin-city who were caught selling Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), beer, wine and other alcoholic drinks during the lockdown period.
While the excise department remained in slumber, the Local Crime Branch (LCB) unit of the Thane (rural) police led by SP-Dr. Shivaji Rathod launched a crackdown to weed out the illegalities. Apart from apprehending small time bootleggers and busting illicit liquor breweries, the police conducted raids at licensed establishments and caught the operators red handed while selling booze to tipplers.
“We will seek cancellation of licenses granted to such establishments.” said Senior Police Inspector, Vyenkat Andhale. IMFL, beer and wines worth around Rs. 4.5 lakh was seized during the raids. “We have tabled a proposal against four liquor vendors in the district for breaching rules. The district collector will assess the cases and decide the quantum of punishments.” confirmed-Senior Excise Inspector-Vijay Thorat.
Although the errant booze sellers were booked under the sections of the Bombay Prohibition Act, IPC, Disaster Management Act, Excise Act and the stringent Maharashtra Covid-19 Rules, they were likely to get away with paltry fines, despite defeating the sole purpose of lockdown and encouraging spread of the pandemic, sources said.
Since the lockdown was put in place, the excise wing was supposed to seal all liquor vends and stockrooms of bars and permit rooms. However, the lockdown turned out to be a blessing in disguise for some licensed establishments who minted money by selling the booze at exorbitant prices. All eyes are now on the decision of the collector, who himself heads the district disaster management authority.