The Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC) has urged the Central government and states to allow alcohol home delivery in India. It has also called for a change in infrastructure, so people can order alcohol online.
The Central government stopped alcohol sale from March 25, when it enacted a 21-day lockdown in the country. The lockdown was to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus infection in India.
The lockdown would have ended on April 14, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended it to May 3.
He said some non-essential services could restart after April 20 in areas that were not Covid-19 hotspots.
The alcohol home delivery plan
The lockdown has caused huge losses to state exchequers, with state Excise Departments missing revenue from alcohol sales.
For example, Karnataka Excise Department Joint Director (Statistics) KS Shivayya told Times of Food on Thursday, April 16, that the state was losing an estimated Rs 50 crore for every day of the lockdown.
CIABC Director General Vinod Giri is looking to change that, for now as well as the future.
He told Times of Food on Thursday that CIABC has approached two Central ministries and 27 state governments to allow alcohol home delivery in India.
Giri said it now depends on how state governments take this forward with the Central government.
“Things will be different moving forward,” he said. CIABC has asked, among other things, for “less human interface” when it comes to selling alcohol, he said.
This is in line with the social distancing norms the country is following now. This social distancing may continue in the absence of a vaccine or cure for Covid-19, even after the lockdown.
That is why home delivery of alcohol becomes imperative, explained Giri. “It will ensure human interaction is minimised,” he said.
So, what needs to change?
Currently, there is no law that prevents online delivery of alcohol. However, state excise departments will individually need to change their policy to let alcohol home delivery happen, Giri said.
He added that the policy also needs to change for online ordering of alcohol to happen.
“The states are enthusiastic about our plan,” which also includes phased opening of alcohol factories and shops across India, said Giri. It is up to the Central government now to take a call on this, he said.