The central government's decision to demonetise higher-value currency notes has had an unlikely victim; sale of alcohol has been hit badly in the state of Maharashtra. Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) sales have dropped by 30 percent in the last two weeks, while sale and consumption of country liquor has gone up by 10 percent.
State excise commissioner V Radha confirmed to Firstpost about there being a drop in the sale of IMFL. However, she added, revenues have still gone up over the April-October period. Rs 7,022 crore was collected in revenue from alcohol sale for the period between April and October 2016, while the figure for the corresponding period of 2015 was Rs 6,799 crores, she added. The annual revenue for 2015-16 was Rs 12,500 crore, and the target before March 2017 will be Rs 15,000 crore, Radha said.
"In the last six months, we have seized goods worth Rs 19.83 crore, an increase of 21.56 percent compared to last year. Not only this, but we've also arrested 9,469 people in the six months between April and October for dealing with sale of illegal liquor, as against 7,303 people in the corresponding period for last year," Radha added.
The revenue department, which collects data on a monthly basis, has analysed the information in the two weeks since 8 November, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made his announcement. It has discovered a 30 percent drop in sales of IMFL, but has noticed country liquor sales have gone up by 10 percent.
"There is a cash crunch currently, since notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 aren't being used. People are saving money because of this, and are buying more country liquor as against IMFL. Sales of country liquor have gone up," confirmed state excise minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule.
The state government had already banned 850 country liquor stalls selling toddy or palm wine across Maharashtra. The state contributes about 20 percent of the country's IMFL consumption, and over 2,000 wine shops sell IMFL across Maharashtra. IMFL sales contribute to 45 percent of the state's alcohol consumption, while country liquor contributes 35 percent.
We already banned 850 Tadi (Toddy or Palm Wine) shops in state, which is result that increased in the sale of Country liquor, he added. Maharashtra is around 20 percent contributor of IMFL of Country and more than 2000 shops of IMFL. IMFL sales in Maharashtra amount to 45 percent, while Country liquor contributes 35 percent, Bawankule said.
The state excise department has also changed laws allowing storing and stocking alcohol at home. From the previous limit of 12 bottles of alcohol every month, it has now gone down to only two bottles at home. Social activist Anna Hazare, who has long been campaigning for alcohol prohibition, along with women's rights groups and NGOs, had made this demand. The state government officials have released a toll free number — 18008333333, and and a WhatsApp number — 8422001133, for complaints or information about sale and consumption of illegal alcohol.