Many liquor traders were dejected for not being able to secure licences for wine shops due to the government’s new policy of fixed licence fee and draw of lots.
However, they seem to be focusing on belt shops and this is evident in the fact that the number of belt shops have increased to 5,000 this year as against the existing 3,900 in Adilabad district last year.
The traders, in collusion with the excise officials, are making fast bucks by selling non-duty paid liquor smuggled from neighbouring Maharashtra, apart from local brands, at the shops in Adilabad, Boath, Kubeer, Wankidi, Tamsi, Talmadugu, Jainath, Bela and Kagaznagar mandals, all on the borders of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
It is learnt that traders buy belt shops for Rs 4-Rs 7 lakh each.
According to sources, in Khajarlla village, a liquor trader bought a belt shop for Rs 7 lakh despite knowing it is hard to earn profit from it. Soon he began selling liquor smuggled from neighbouring Maharashtra.
Similarly, in Kuchalapur village as well, three belt shops were bought for Rs 4 lakh each.
However, these shops do a business of Rs 11.23 crore a year. One belt shop owner, it is learnt, shells out Rs 25,000-`35,000 per month in the name of mamools.
As many as 130 cartons of non-duty paid liquor is sold at the shops on the border mandals. One carton contains 48 nibs (each nib contains 180 ml liquor) costing `50 each.
This means there is business of a whopping Rs 3,12,000 per day and Rs 93,60,000 per month, all of which is not reaching the state government’s exchequer.
Five years ago, the government imposed restrictions on non-duty paid liquor but the traders, greasing the hands of the excise sleuths, are shifting it to the district from Maharashtra in country boats via Penganga and Pranahita rivers or through forests.
The police department files cases on the illegal transport of liquor but the excise officials maintain no such incidents had occurred. The police department filed 10 cases on illegal transport of liquor in Talmadugu mandal police station and 13 cases in Tamsi police station.
However, the excise department is busy in collecting their mamool rather than conduct raids on belt shops. Last year, the ACB sleuths forced closure of many belt shops through their concerted raids.