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Maharashtra Government on Tuesday released a notification allowing the home delivery of liquor during the coronavirus lockdown 3.0 in ‘’permitted areas’’ outside the containment zones. The government will exercise power enjoyed in Section 139 of the Maharashtra Prohibition Act, 1949 to allow home delivery of liquor considering the present crisis.

The government proposes to adopt allowing home delivery on the lines of West Bengal, Punjab, Chhattisgarh. The home delivery will begin from May 14 at 10 am only after the liquor shopkeepers complete medical check-up of delivery boys and doctor certificate and the Excise Department gives necessary permissions and license for the same.

As per the notification, it will be the shopkeeper’s responsibility to deliver liquor at homes in the areas approved by the district collector and the municipal commissioner. The onus will be on shopkeepers that infection through delivery boys is not spread. The shopkeeper will have to provide identity card and certificate of the delivery boys. The home delivery will not be possible in digital platform including Amazon.

The shopkeepers will have to adhere to the timings of home delivery as per the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and the Epidemic Act, 1897. In Maharashtra there are 10,700 retail liquor outlets of which 4,000 are allowed to operate while 4,500 are shut because of the decision by local authorities. On the other hand, 2200 liquor shops come from the containment zones in various districts

State government sources told FPJ,’’ As per the provisions of the Maharashtra Prohibition Act, 1949 the home delivery of liquor is not permitted. However, section 139 of the same act empowers the state government to exempt any person or institution or any class of persons or institutions from all or any of the provisions of the Act or any of the rules, regulations or orders.’’ Sources said the sale of liquor is currently not possible containment areas in red zone where the district collector and municipal commissioner have been delegated powers under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and Epidemics Act, 1897 to take necessary decisions locally.

However, outside the containment zones in permitted area or outside the demarcated areas, the home delivery can be possible. ‘’In Mumbai, the liquor shops operated for two days but they were closed after municipal commissioner issued order last week for its closure citing the spread of coronavirus infection due to gathering of people. Similarly, liquor sale is currently completely closed in Thane city, Navi Mumbai, Nagpur and Aurangabad which means home delivery will not be possible there as the respective district collectors and municipal commissioners have declined the sale of liquor,’’ sources said.

Meanwhile, the government has launched e-token system in Pune on an experimental basis whereby the liquor shopkeepers are given certain time slot ranging from 10 minutes to 30 minutes to pick up the ‘’commodity.’’ However, the government proposes to extend it in rest of the state in permitted areas excluding containment zones where the coronavirus infection is high. It will also be introduced in ‘’permitted areas’’ outside the containment zones. ‘’This is again to avoid crowd at the liquor shops. In Pune, it has been launched and resulted in smooth sale of liquor without congregation of people,’’ sources said.

Since the liquor shops are allowed to operate from last week in 21 districts the daily sale is ranging between 15 to 18 lakh litre worth Rs 45 to 50 crore.

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