VIJAYAWADA: Tipplers in Vijayawada and in the rest of Krishna district can breathe easy. The fear of what seemed like an inevitable liquor famine has disappeared with the Prohibition and Excise Department starting its own depot at Gudivada. Very soon, say within three to four days, it would set up another depot in Vijayawada.
With the excise department itself opening a depot, now there is an uninterrupted supply of liquor to the licensees - retail liquor outlets.
A few days ago, the liquor famine looked very real with the Income Tax Department shutting down all liquor depots run by the AP Beverages Corporation in the state as the latter owed it `9,000 crore in tax arrears from 2003-04 to 2013-14.
The department contended that since the corporation was doing business by purchasing and selling liquor, the income it gets on these transactions was taxable.
Consequently, the two depots in Krishna district, one in Vijayawada and the other in Gudivada were shut down by the Income Tax Department on February 28 itself. As the outlets had 15 days stocks with them, the pinch had not been felt by the boozers,
Meanwhile, the state government issued a GO on March 10 authorising the Prohibition and Excise Department to open depots on its own, procure liquor from distilleries and breweries and sell it to retail outlets. As the dispute is between the Income Tax department and the Beverages Corporation, the government had no difficulty in ensuring that the excise department sets up the shops.
According to a senior official of the excise department, in just three days, the second depot would also be set up in Vijayawada. “We cannot delay Vijayawada depot any more since market in the city is very important to us,” he said, adding that sales were brisk at Excise Department’s Gudivada depot. “We have sold `9 crore worth of liquor to shops. On Thursday, the business was `3 crore and on Friday `6 crore,” the official said.
On an average, the liquor business in entire Krishna district is about `120 crore a month. The volume of liquor consumed is about two lakh cases of IML and one lakh cases of beer a month, the official said.