As the state governments in India began to ease the strictest lockdown norms, liquor shops started selling liquor. Pleasant news for the alcohol addicts, they thronged in large numbers to the shops. This caused crowding at the liquor shops and fragmented the social distancing measures to pieces. The police personnel had to charge to disperse the crowd. Cases of crowding at liquor shops sprung in various parts of India including Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Chhattisgarh.
Worst crowding was seen at shops in Delhi. Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi, took cognizance of the matter and said that if such violations of social distancing are encountered again then the state government will have to seal the area. Moreover, the state government has now introduced a seventy percent hike in tax on MRP(Maximum Retail Price) of liquor terming it as “special-corona-tax“. This was introduced so as to restrict crowding at liquor shops, however, the state government was taken by awe to find that event this did not stop people from buying it. The sale of liquor is a good source of revenue for the government. According to a report, the Delhi government earned a whopping Rs 25 crore from vigorous liquor sales on Tuesday. In Uttar Pradesh, the sales spiked to Rs 100 crore. West Bengal earned Rs 40 crore. This clearly manifests the importance of the liquor industry to revenue generation in India. But is this the right time to try to revive the economy through liquor sales?
People who can buy liquor even after a seventy percent tax hike are the ones who’ll procure it at any cost. So even if the prices are doubled, people will hardly refrain from showing up at liquor shops in numbers beyond imagination and disobeying social distancing norms. The Delhi government needs to do something more to restrict such crowding in the future.
The government of Chhattisgarh has opened an online portal under the Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited, the state-run corporation that handles the sale of potable liquor in the state. This attempt by the Chhattisgarh government can restrict crowding at liquor shops.
The government needs to address the situation immediately or it might cause a sudden spike in COVID cases. COVID spread at a single liquor shop could potentially cause thousands of infections.
The views and opinions expressed in this opinion article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Eastern Herald.