Tipplers in Chhattisgarh can now get liquor home delivered. The state government has launched a web portal and a mobile app where customers can place their orders, thereby not having to step out during the COVID-19 lockdown, an official said.
The move is aimed at preventing crowding at liquor outlets, as was witnessed on Monday when the liquor outlets opened in several states, including Chhattisgarh, after over a month of dry spell due to the nationwide lockdown.
However, wine shops, which were closed since March 23, located in containment zones and shopping malls in the state did not open. The opening of those in other areas came after the Centre relaxed some restrictions during the third phase of the lockdown.
Ordering on CSMCL portal
The portal launched in Chhattisgarh has been named after the state-run CSMCL (Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited), which controls the sale of liquor in the state, a public relations department official here said.
But a large number of people queued up outside liquor outlets in the state capital Raipur and other districts, defying the physical distancing norms. The official said, “The state government allowed online sale of liquor so that crowding at wine shops can be discouraged.”
People can place orders directly through the portal or its mobile app available on the Play Store. However, this home delivery facility will not be available in Raipur and Korba districts which are not classified as green zones, the official said.
The Union government has classified districts as red, orange and green zones based on the COVID-19 risk profiling. People will have to register their mobile number, Aadhaar number and address for placing order online which will be confirmed through an OTP (one time password).
A customer can order up to 5,000 ml of liquor at a time for home delivery, the official said, adding that the delivery charge is ₹120.
The state government’s decision of home delivery of liquor courted a controversy as the opposition BJP in Chhattisgarh termed the move as “shameful”, and further demanded that it be withdrawn. “The Congress, which came to power, after promising liquor ban is now delivering liquor at home. It is a very shameful decision,” said Dharamlal Kaushik, Leader of Opposition in the state assembly.
What are other states doing?
Several states have imposed higher taxes and increased prices of liquor after such shops were opened on Monday, in an apparent attempt to discourage people from consuming alcohol.
The Andhra Pradesh government increased liquor prices by another 50 per cent on Tuesday, a day after imposing a 25 per cent hike as the shops were reopened. Rajat Bhargava, Special Chief Secretary (Revenue), said the increase in liquor rates was to “discourage” people from consumption and safeguard health.
The official said the enhanced rates would come into force with immediate effect. The state government also decided to open liquor outlets from 12 noon, instead of 11 am, till 7 pm. Sources said the fresh hike (50 per cent) in rates could fetch an additional revenue of ₹9,000 crore per annum to the cash-starved state government.
Meanwhile, in Delhi, the state government’s move of levying “special corona fee” of 70 per cent on alcohol failed to stop tipplers from queuing up outside such retail outlets on Tuesday. Long queues were formed outside shops in Krishna Nagar and Vishwas Nagar, while police had to stand outside to manage the crowd.
At some places, like the Gole Market in central Delhi, although the liquor shops were shut, baton-wielding paramilitary personnel were also deployed to keep the crowd at bay. About 150 government-run liquor shops have been allowed to open from 9 am to 6.30 pm as per the latest lockdown relaxations.
In Maharashtra’s Pune district, the police has taken a serious note of long queues outside liquor shops and have warned of strict action against such outlets if they become the cause of crowding. Police Commissioner K Venkatesham asked liquor shops to ensure social distancing norms are complied with.
He also asked liquor shop owners to adopt a token system with timings and said vehicles without a valid pass are not allowed including for the purchase of liquor.
(With inputs from agencies)