Long queues form outside liquor shops in Maharashtra

Our Bureau Pune | Updated on May 04, 2020

People crowd outside a liquor shop in Thane, on Monday   -  PTI

Tipplers congratulate State government on move, say they are doing their bit to boost Maharashtra’s coffers and economy

Elated crowds gathered in front of liquor shops across the State, pleased by the State government’s decision to allow liquor shops to open, hailing it as the right decision at a critical time.

The Maharashtra government has allowed standalone shops of non-essential commodities, including liquor vendors, to open in red zones such as Mumbai, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad and Malegaon.

Huge queues were seen across the cities and those celebrating the relaxation in the rules defended the government’s move, saying liquor brings in major revenue to the State coffers and that drinkers are helping boost the economy. “The government has delayed the decision and has lost revenue,” said a senior citizen, who had reached a wine shop as early as 8.30 am in Pune to be in the queue. Speaking to a local television channel, he said he was eager to have his peg after a gap of more than a month.

Big revenue earner

In 2018-19, the State earned ₹15,323 crore as excise from liquor, while in 2019-20, the figure stood at ₹17,977 crore.

Police had to intervene in many cities to control the crowds and make them maintain physical distance.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Chief Raj Thackeray was the only political leader in the State to have demanded the opening of liquor shops. “It’s not that there was a liquor ban in our state and we are asking to remove that. Prior to lockdown, the wine shops were open. The state government should not try to get caught in some moral issues at such a crucial time and take the necessary action,” he had said in a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

However, social activists have raised concerns over the government’s decision. Women’s organisations fear a rise in domestic violence in the wake of the opening of liquor shops.

Published on May 04, 2020

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