As a first major step towards prohibition, the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in Andhra pradesh on Tuesday took over the retail liquor business while the price of liquor was increased to discourage consumption.
With the new excise policy coming into effect from Tuesday, the state-owned Andhra Pradesh Beverages Corporation Limited (APBCL) took control of liquor shops from private contractors after reducing the number of outlets by 20 per cent.
Officials said the number of shops has been cut to 3,500 from 4,380 earlier.
The business hours of wine shops have also been reduced. The shops will now remain open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. against 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. earlier.
The government also banned consumption of liquor in wine shops to avoid inconvenience to people living near the premises.
Under the new rules, no liquor shop is supposed to be located within 100 meters of a place of worship, educational institution or a hospital. They should also not be visible from state or national highways.
In another move to discourage consumption of liquor, the government hiked its prices by increasing Additional Retail Excise Tax (AERT). The prices of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), foreign liquor, beer, wine and ready -to-drink varieties have gone up by Rs 10 to Rs 250.
According to the government order issued late on Monday: 250/275 ml ready-to-drink liquor will cost an additional Rs 20; IMFL and foreign liquor will cost an extra Rs 20 for a quarter bottle, Rs 40 for half and Rs 80 for full bottle.
Under the new policy, 60/90 ml liter IMFL bottle has become dearer by Rs 10. The price of one litre bottle has gone up by Rs 100 and that of two litre bottle by Rs 250.
APBCL will get four per cent commission on sales at the liquor shops. Some 3,500 supervisors, 8,033 salesmen have been recruited to run these shops.
The government said the rules about sale of liquor at MRP will be strictly implemented and those violating the rules would be removed from the job with immediate effect.
Imposing total prohibition was a key promise made by YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) during the election campaign.
Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had announced after assuming office in May that prohibition would be enforced in phases and finally consumption of liquor will be confined to five-star hotels only.
Deputy Chief Minister and Excise Minister Naryanaswamy said 43,000 belt shops allowed by previous government were closed down after Jagan Mohan Reddy ordered a crackdown.
Belt shops were the illegal outlets of the licensed liquor shops.
The government claimed that the series of steps led to liquor sales coming down by 15 per cent in the last four months.
To address women's complains regarding liquor consumption, the government has recruited, 14,994 women constables in village and ward secretariats, which will become operational from October 2.