RAIPUR: The Chhattisgarh government has allowed home delivery of liquor in the state through online sale during the ongoing coronavirus-enforced lockdown, officials said on Sunday.
The opposition BJP in Chhattisgarh criticised the ruling Congress over the decision, claiming that it seems the state government's priority was to provide liquor to people instead of medical facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state commercial taxes department in an order on Saturday gave permission to the excise commissioner to allow home delivery of liquor through online orders, officials said. During the lockdown, liquor shops are not allowed to open in the state.
"To curb illegal manufacturing, sale, transportation and possession of liquor during the lockdown period, permission has been granted for its home delivery through online orders from Monday," an official from the excise department said.
Timings for the home delivery of liquor have been fixed from 9 am to 8 pm. The district administration can change the timings as per the local situation, the official said.
The Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited (CSMCL) will decide which shops will provide the home delivery service and customers will have to make the payment in advance while placing the order, he said.
The state government had earlier also allowed online sale of liquor in May last year when shops were closed due to restrictions imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19 during its first wave.
Like earlier, people can book orders on the CSMCL's website or its app available on mobile playstore.
Customers can order up to five litres of liquor at a time and Rs 100 will be charged for home delivery service, which will be available within 15 km of the shop concerned, the official said.
Chhattisgarh Excise Minister Kawasi Lakhma on Saturday said in view of incidents of illegal sale of liquor and deaths after consumption of sanitisers and alcohol-based medicines as a substitute for liquor, the government was considering to restart the home delivery service of liquor.
He said the lockdown is in force in the state since some time and liquor shops are shut. Police have been taking necessary action to thwart illegal sale of liquor in Chhattisgarh from neighbouring states.
"Besides, it's a big headache as a large number of people recently died in Bilaspur (after consuming an alcohol- based homeopathy syrup) and a sad incident was also earlier reported in Raipur," Lakhma said.
Meanwhile, the BJP slammed the state government over its decision to allow home delivery of liquor.
"The decision shows the state government has no concern for the health of citizens. Instead of focusing on arranging treatment facilities for COVID-19, it is giving priority to serving liquor," Leader of Opposition Dharamlal Kaushik claimed.