In his epic poem Madhushala (The Tavern), Harivansh Rai Bachchan had written: “Bair badhate mandir masjid mel karati madhushala. (While the mandir and Masjid divided Hindus and Muslims, they were brought together in the Madhushala).”
The poem, which lives on through recitations of his superstar son Amitabh Bachchan didn’t appear to have made a mark on the denizens of Bhiwandi who took umbrage at wine shops being opened.
According to a report in Times Now, locals in Bhiwandi became angry at a liquor shop owner saying he couldn’t open his shop since the ‘our mandir was shut’. While wine shops have been given permission to open across the country – providing much relief to the excise department and tipplers – places of worship aren’t allowed to open yet.
A video of the incident had a local saying: “You cannot open the shop. This is creating crowding here. There is a temple, how can you open the shop. I am saying you cannot open the shop. I am calling the nagar-sevak right away."
A larger argument broke out after that and eyewitnesses said that cops had to intervene.
It is estimated that Rs 10 crore worth of liquor in the state of Maharashtra will perish, due to the lockdown. This is just the figure of the liquor which is stocked up in hotels and restaurants in the state.
Looking at this condition, the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) has written to the Maharashtra Government pleading hotels and restaurants in the state to be given permission to sell off this perishable liquor stocks lying with them.
This stock includes liquors and beers that are likely to perish due to the expiry of the products. “The Hospitality Industry is under lockdown now for almost 45 days. Further, all sale of Liquor under FL3 Licenses have been prohibited by the declaration of Dry Day pursuant to the order issued by the State Excise. But now with the government relaxing the ban on the sale of liquor, we are hoping to salvage from the unsold stock which in turn can induce some liquidity into our businesses. This will introduce working capital for many establishments that are bleeding in outgoing expenses and are sitting on dormant stocks,” says Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, President, HRAWI.
While some places in Maharashtra have allowed the sale of liquor it hasn’t gone smoothly. Large lines were seen in several places in Mumbai and Pune. While sales weren’t allowed in Thane and Navi Mumbai, the serpentine queues were even longer on Tuesday after many shops were closed on Monday.
Maharashtra consumes 86 crore litres of liquor annually, which comes out to 24 lakh litres per day.
With the relaxation of the lockdown 3.0 order, the Maharashtra government expects a revenue of Rs 2,160 crore through excise duty by end of May. Nearly 3327 country liquor shops (total 4159), 1348 foreign liquor shops (1685) and 3463 beer shops (4947) have been reopened from Monday onwards across the state. Of these, in Mumbai alone, 241 country liquor (total 301), 328 foreign liquor (410), and 274 beer shops (342) will start functioning. There are about 31 wine shops, mostly in Nashik and around.
Maharashtra Excise Department estimates a daily sale of Rs 110 crore from these shops and the revenue from excise and sales tax will be Rs 80 crore. So, by end of May 31, the government expects revenue of Rs 2,160 crore through excise duty which is one of the key sources of revenue after GST, stamp duty, and registration fee in the state. The Excise Department is coordinating with the police to avoid crowds or any untoward incident at these shops