Amaravati, May 6 (IANS) Under fire from various quarters for allowing sale of liquor during lockdown, YSR Congress Party government in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday decided to reduce the number of liquor shops by 15 per cent.
The government said the decision to reduce the number of shops from 3,500 to 2,934 is in furtherance of its stated policy of prohibition in a phased manner.
With this, the number of shops has been reduced by 33 per cent since YSRCP came to power in May last year.
The government had last year taken control of the retail liquor business by cancelling the licenses of private dealers. The number of shops was then reduced by 20 per cent – from 4,380 to 3,500.
State-owned Andhra Pradesh State Beverages Corporation Ltd has been running the shops since October last year.
Meanwhile, huge rush was seen for a third straight day at liquor shops across the state. Flouting social distancing norms at several places, the tipplers were seen vying with each other to buy the liquor.
Undeterred by increase in the liquor prices by 75 per cent, the liquor lovers queued up in large numbers at the outlets.
After a gap of 43 days, the state had re-opened liquor shops on Monday with a 25 per cent price hike. The shops were opened in all areas except in containment zones. As it came under flak from the opposition and the women’s groups for allowing liquor sale, Jagan Mohan Reddy government on Tuesday further hiked the prices by 50 per cent. It said the move was aimed at discouraging liquor consumption.
However, going by the huge rush at the outlets on Wednesday, it is clear that the price hike failed to dampen the spirits of the tipplers.
On the first day, liquor worth Rs 68 crore was sold at 2,345 outlets. On the second day only 1,500 shops were opened and that too only for the half day. The second day sales were Rs 40 crore.
The 75 per cent hike is expected to fetch the state government an additional excise revenue of Rs 15,000 crore per annum.
Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy directed the police department to control the flow of liquor from other states and illicit liquor.
Meanwhile, in an innovative way to ensure social distancing, Srikakulam district administration issued orders that liquor be sold to only those carrying umbrellas. The customers queued at the outlets were all carrying umbrellas and wearing face masks.