NEW DELHI: All major states in the country are working on implementing home delivery of alcoholic beverages with at least 7-8 states to allow the service within the next two weeks. While Punjab, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh have already permitted, others including Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are also mulling on allowing home delivery of alcohol to shore up revenues.
“For a country like India, which has the world’s second-largest population but also the lowest number of outlets, home delivery is the need of the hour to ensure social distancing. At least 7-8 states are expected to give the green signal in the next two weeks,” Amrit Kiran Singh, chairman International Spirits and Wines Association of India (ISWAI) told TNIE.
ISWAI represents liquor companies such as Diageo-United Spirits Ltd, Pernod Ricard, Moet Hennessy, Bacardi, Remy Martin and Brown Forman that sell about 80 per cent of all spirits and wine in India.
On Friday, the Supreme Court has suggested that state governments should consider the indirect sale of liquor through online or home delivery modes. The same day Madras High Court too ordered that only online liquor sales be allowed in the state to maintain social distancing norms.
Industry observers say the move is good news for food aggregators lobbying hard to cash-in on the business.
“Not just Zomato, states are in talks with Swiggy, Dunzo and HipBar as well and it is the onus of the state governments to decide who they want to work with to facilitate home delivery,” Singh noted.
On the flip side, however, the range of price difference in states could give rise to a thriving grey market.
“In Delhi, for instance, the 70 per cent corona cess levied can prove counterproductive. Delhi has a porous border with many states, where the prices are much lower. We are afraid this kind of price difference will give rise to smuggling of liquor from neighbouring states, thus defeating the objective of increasing revenues,” said Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies director general Vinod Giri, hoping that trade is normalised at the earliest so that such unlawful activities stop.
Easing rules to shore up revenues
While Punjab, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh have already permitted online delivery of liquor, others such as Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are also mulling allowing the same, to shore up revenue.