The Uttar Pradesh government has incurred a loss of about Rs 5,000 crore following the Supreme Court’s order banning all liquor shops along national as well as state highways.
Of the 8,591 highway liquor shops affected by the Supreme Court order, 2,000 are yet to be relocated while 3,000 shop owners have surrendered their liquor licences, said UP Excise Minister Jai Pratap Singh.
"We have incurred a loss of about Rs 5,000 crore in 2016-17 fiscal ending March 31. Out of the target of realising Rs 19,000 crore, the excise department could generate Rs 14,000 crore following the apex court order order," the minister told PTI.
The Supreme Court had last year ordered a ban on all liquor shops along national as well as state highways across the country and prohibited all signages indicating presence of liquor vends.
The Supreme Court on March 31 reiterated its December 15, 2016 order to shut down, by April 1, establishments selling and serving liquor within 500 metres of national and state highways, but relaxed the distance to 220 m for cities, towns and municipal areas with a population of 20,000 or less.
According to latest data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), accidents due to drunk driving have the highest fatality rate among all accidents.
NCRB data showed that some 42 per cent of drunk driving victims ended up dead in 2015. This was a far higher rate than that of accidents caused by over speeding and reckless driving.
Highlighting his departments initiatives for going cashless, Singh said, "We are introducing a cashless system in liquor shops and asking them to install point-of-sale (POS) machines. Though it will difficult in rural areas, we are asking shops to switch over to cashless payments."
On media reports suggesting that the cashless system is being introduced to deter teenagers from purchasing liquor, the minister said there is already a law which does not allow sale of liquor to minors.
About sale of liquor near religious places and schools, he said, "An SC order in 2008 says no to liquor vending with a radius of 75 metre of a school or religious place. But, with increase in population density, the number of schools and hospitals have increased leading to conflicts."
"We have decided that no liquor shop will be relocated within 500 metre of religious places or hospitals. In case of objection, even residential colonies will come under the ambit. At the moment it is not in a very formal shape. But we are working on it," the minister said.
About excise revenue expectations for 2017-18, the minister said his department has fixed a target of Rs 20,000 crore.
The minister said that Yogi Adityanath government will introduce its new excise policy from April 2018 and the government plans to break the syndicate system in liquor trade.
"We are working on the new excise policy before finalising it," he said.
The new excise policy may introduce a system of bar code on each bottle in a bid to check black marketing and pilferage in liquor sale, mostly in country-made alcohol products.
The bar code would be connected to computer data to ensure each batch is sold by the rightful dealer, an excise official said.
In case of foreign made liquor too, bar coding could help check exchange from special zone to normal excise zone.
The new policy will also seek to unearth all rackets involving liquor syndicates.
(With PTI inputs)