KOLKATA: After almost three dry weeks, tipplers in some parts of the state may finally get to buy a bottle, not at an off-shop but right at their doorstep through home delivery. Even though the excise department has not issued any notification allowing home delivery, sources revealed that off-shop owners have been informed that home delivery of liquor could be permitted if the local administration agrees.
There is no option of home delivery in excise laws which do not prohibit it either. “It depends on the interpretation of the law,” said a liquor expert. Amrit Kiran Singh, executive chairman of International Spirits and Wine Association of India, said: “As per FSSAI Act 2006, food is an essential item and alcohol has been classified as food item in this act few years back. Only problem in our country is perception about this trade.”
The local administration and excise officials in some districts are worried that if official liquor continues to remain elusive, spurious liquor would cause major damage. “I have got calls from excise officials asking us to start home delivery. I am thinking how to do it,” said a leading retailer who has liquor shops in both Kolkata and districts. Last week, the excise department had suggested the Wuhan model — the global epicentre of the pandemic had successfully attempted home delivery of liquor through an app during its 68-day lockdown.
Last Wednesday (April 8), there was an informal communication from excise that liquor will be home delivered from on-shops/off-shops/bars/restaurants/ hotels with a valid liquor licence.
It may be recalled that state beverage corporation (Bevco) has started functioning from last Friday. Bevco is the distribution arm of the state government which now controls wholesale liquor trade in Bengal. Bevco forms the backbone of the liquor trade supply chain to retailers.
Bevco workers are already engaged in offloading trucks queued in different warehouses. Bevco has 22 warehouses in the state in different locations. According to excise officials, following lockdown from March 23 afternoon, several trucks of manufacturers got stuck in warehouses. It was learnt that Bevco warehouses have stocks for 6-7 days taken together IMFL and beer.
(With inputs from Falguni Banerjee and Suman Mandal)
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