Tipplers had a hard time on Monday (August 1) as restaurants, bars and hotels in Delhi declined to serve liquor after their excise licenses expired on July 31.
Delhi Lt Governor VK Saxena granted approval for the extension of excise licenses of hotels, bars and restaurants to serve liquor for a month after a decision to this effect was taken by the Delhi government on Sunday, sources said. The Excise department will soon issue an official order to this effect, they added.
However, although restaurateurs said the process would take place online, it will take at least a day or two to complete the process, which would mean that people would have to wait for their liquor.
On Monday, customers walked into restaurants and bars unknowingly and asked for liquor but their requests were declined. Earlier in the day, the representatives of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) met Excise department officials to urge them to renew the existing licenses.
In a memorandum, the NRAI said the industry had welcomed implementation of the new excise policy from November 2021. “However, piecemeal extensions have been granted since then for payment of fees/license renewals, the last of which expired on July 31. As done in the past, the industry was expecting an order for payment of fees before July 31. This, however, has not happened, and members have received emails informing them about expiry of their excise licenses,” read the memorandum.
Noting that “such business disruption” is causing huge financial strain on the industry, which is just recovering from the ill-effects of the COVID pandemic, they urged for “immediate intervention” in issuing directions for payment of fees and renewal of
existing excise licenses without interruption.
“It is reiterated that the matter is most urgent and we seek a resolution to this issue in order to ensure business continuity for the industry,” they further said.
Restaurateurs said they were in the dark about what was happening but said they have learnt that an extension will be granted on the existing licenses for at least a month, but an official order is yet to come.
Sources present in the meeting indicated that the excise department officials had assured that an official order would be issued soon granting extension of licenses but said the duration of extension was not specified.
A restaurateur, on condition of anonymity, said, “In anticipation of the situation, many of us had stocked up liquor which would last us for at least two months. But since our licenses have expired, we cannot serve it. It is a very confusing situation at the moment. We have had a good relationship with the government and the excise department and hope that they will come out with the official order soon.”
(With inputs from Agencies)