Excise dept's laxity raise concerns about 'fancy label, fake liquor'

State issued guidelines that pub, hotel owners should destroy imported liquor bottles, but there are no checks from the dept to ensure this is being followed

The state excise department has failed to check whether hotel owners in the district are disposing imported liquor bottles to keep conmen from refilling and reselling them. The department set up these guidelines on its own, but it does not have any system to ensure whether the restaurant owners are following these guidelines.

In August last year, the state excise department issued guidelines to restaurants, bars, clubs and permit rooms that either bottles of high-end imported liquor should be crushed or the label scraped off, so they are not filled back with spurious liquor.

Asked why they did not have any system to ensure if their guidelines were being followed, officials said it was expected of hotel owners to discard used bottle, not a compulsion for them.

Pic/Mohan Patil

“Our staff is paying monthly visits for the last couple of months to hotels to check the inward stock and sale of the bottles. We do not know if the restaurants are really following our guidelines. However, this year, our revenue increased by 16 per cent over last year’s, and it could be because hotel owners are following our guidelines,” said state excise superintendent (Pune) AB Chaskar.

The guidelines came after incidents of illegal liquor trade were reported in the state in the past two years. After that, it was mandatory for excise inspectors to have checks at five-star hotels twice a month to make sure used bottles of imported liquor are smashed and not sold to scrap dealers.

However, the president of Pune Hotels And Restaurants Association, Ganesh Shetty, said that hoteliers were not following the guidelines, as it was not possible for them to dispose of each bottle. He added that the empty bottles are given to scrap dealers and restaurant owners are unaware what they do with them.


Past Bootlegging instances

Jan 2012: State excise department (in pic) exposed illegal sale of liquor bottles meant to be sold exclusively in military canteens in Pune, and arrested two ex-service men

Mar 2012: A police van trying to smuggle 500 bottles of liquor into Mumbai from Goa was caught on the Mumbai-Goa highway

Jan 2013: Excise officials in Nashik raided two dens and seized locally manufactured illegal liquor worth R8 lakh.

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