LUCKNOW: As the Uttar Pradesh government allowed liquor vends to reopen during the nationwide lockdown's third phase, the state registered sale of liquor of over Rs 100 crore as tipplers queued up at liquor stores on day one, an official said on Tuesday.
Several shop owners had to shut down by Monday afternoon after they ran out of stock. The average daily sale of liquor in the state in normal times is around Rs 70-80 crore.
According to Excise Department officials, the sale of liquor in state capital Lucknow was recorded at Rs 6.3 crore on Monday, the first day of the start of the third phase of the lockdown that ends on May 17.
Principal Secretary, Excise, Sanjay Bhoosreddy said: "I don't think there would be any single industry with just less than one lakh workforce that gives Rs 100 crore revenue (to the state exchequer) in a day."
More than 25,600 liquor shops in Uttar Pradesh remained closed for around 40 days after imposition of the lockdown from March 24 midnight, causing a huge revenue loss to the state.
The liquor sellers' association pegged the figures at over Rs 200 crore, adding that about 75 per cent of the amount would have come from the sale of Indian-Made Foreign Liquor or beer.
Kanhaiya Lal Maurya, secretary of Lucknow Liquor Sellers' Association, said: "The sale of country liquor was minuscule in cities as the labour class, which usually purchases it, had either left for their villages or has no money. The sale would have been higher in villages, but there too, money may have been a constraint."
Meanwhile, Bhoosreddy said that a cap on individual purchase on liquor had been imposed to prevent hoarding.
A person will not be allowed to purchase more than one bottle (750 ml), or two halves (375 ml each), or three quarters (180 ml each), or two bottles of beer or three cans. This is being implemented only for the first 2-3 days, he said.
Bhoosreddy said liquor production had started about two weeks ago and supply to wholesalers would remain uninterrupted.
The official said: "Wearing of face masks has been made compulsory. People without masks will be pulled out of the queues. Shops have also been directed to keep hand sanitizers."