With liquor shops closed, blackmarketing flourishes in Jharkhand

July 14th, 2008 - 5:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Ranchi, July 14 (IANS) Liquor shops in Jharkhand have been closed for the past two weeks as the government has issued strict guidelines for renewing licences of alcohol outlets. But that hasn’t stopped liquor sales and blackmarketeers are having a field day. The licences of liquor shops were valid till June 30, but the state government failed to renew licenses, forcing them to down their shutters.

“This year, the government changed the rules for awarding licences to private players. Only local people can bid to get a licence for liquor shops,” a state excise department official told IANS.

He said: “Earlier, syndicates belonging to Chattisgarh and other states could also get licences.”

And the bidding rate of the tenders floated by the excise department is apparently too high and no local syndicates turned up to contest the bid.

Earlier, the maximum bid of a district was between Rs.15 million and Rs.20 million per month. According to the tender, the bidding rate in East Singhbhum district was Rs.32 million per month and in Dhanbad district, the minimum is Rs.35 million.

The state government, which was earning Rs.1.3 billion to Rs.1.5 billion per annum from excise duty, has hiked bidding rates to get excise duty up to Rs.5 billion per annum.

But the fight between the government and the syndicates has led to a flourishing black market and it is the consumers who are coughing up the extra bucks.

Tipplers have to now pay Rs.150 to Rs.300 extra for a bottle of Scotch or rum, while a bottle of beer costs Rs.30-40 more.

“The state government’s wrong planning has put us in a difficult situation. We have to pay extra money to get a bottle. The government is indirectly promoting black marketing,” said Satyendra Narayan Singh, a drinks-regular.

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