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Puducherry mulls home delivery of liquor as crowds line up at shops reopening after 40 days

However, this would require the Excise rules to be amended to include the provision of home delivery

Published: 08th June 2021 08:31 PM  |   Last Updated: 08th June 2021 08:31 PM   |  A+A-

Tipplers not only from Puducherry but also from adjoining Tamil Nadu districts have been purchasing in bulk (Photo | Special arrangement)

Express News Service

PUDUCHERRY: Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Puducherry administration is mulling the home delivery of alcohol to reduce crowding in liquor shops, which opened after 40 days in the Union territory.

“The Excise department should expeditiously issue instructions for doorstep delivery of liquor within U.T. of Puducherry only, in consonance with its Act and Rules, so as to reduce the footfalls to liquor shops,” said the lockdown extension order issued by Revenue Secretary Ashok Kumar late on Monday evening.

However, this would require the Excise rules to be amended to include the provision of home delivery.

“The government has directed the Excise Dept to look into the options of home delivery of liquor to reduce overcrowding in liquor shops. It is under consideration. The Excise rules have to be amended for allowing home delivery of liquor,” said Deputy Commissioner (Excise) T Sudhakar.

Though the details are yet to be decided, the delivery of liquor at doorsteps could be through orders received using mobile apps or online portals.

ALSO READ: Puducherry: Doubtful RT-PCR negative certificates being issued to foreigners

Liquor shops witnessing heavy crowds

The administration has permitted only retail vending including arrack from 9 am to 5 pm. However, shops are seeing overwhelming sales and crowd as tipplers not only from Puducherry but also from adjoining Tamil Nadu districts have been purchasing in bulk by waiting in long queues. Some even held the bottles close to their bodies and kissed them before leaving the shop premises.

The excise department team led by the Deputy Commissioner (Excise) T Sudhakar along with police swung into action to regulate the crowds and ensure Covid safety protocols were followed.

Police carry out lathicharge at TN-Puducherry border shop

With neighbouring Tamil Nadu yet to open its liquor vends, there has been a surge in crowds at border shops in Kanniyakoil, Mullodai, Komadanmedu, Sitheri anicut and Soriyankuppam. People from Tamil Nadu arrived in cars and bikes to purchase liquor. In Soriyankuppam where there are around 10 IMFL shops as well as arrack shops, police had to carry out a lathicharge to control the crowd.

It is wrong on the part of the administration to have opened liquor shops when Covid cases are still high, says V Chandrasekhar, President of Tank Users Association. There is a fear among the people of an increase in Covid cases in Bahour, where there are already 600 cases. The administration should have waited for another 15 days before letting liquor shops to open or should have opened them when the Tamil Nadu government opens its shops, he said. People are not wearing masks or maintaining social distancing and the police are having a difficult time in controlling the crowds, leading to the lathicharge in Soriyankuppam, he added.

Liquor is the second largest revenue grosser for Puducherry and closure of liquor shops for over 40 days had dented the government earnings. Those addicted to alcohol have also been desperate for it, leading to unfortunate incidents. Some consumed sanitiser after learning that it contained alcohol, while others went for illicit liquor, which flowed everywhere. Police and the Excise department were having a hard time in controlling it with many seizures every day. Elected representatives also appealed to the government to permit liquor shops to open for a few hours on a daily basis.



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