Restaurants can offload booze stock to liquor stores
Mumbai will have to wait as the civic body's order on liquor stores being closed remains
The state excise department passed an order allowing restaurants and bars to liquidate their pending beer stock to liquor stores as well as through pick-up and delivery from their outposts on Monday. This was perhaps the fastest circulating order on social media platforms and WhatsApp.
However, the confusion that the city experienced when it allowed liquor shops to open persisted this time too.
An excited restaurateur called mid-day bearing "good news" with plans to start sale the very next day. But Anurag Katriar, president of National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), was quick to clear the confusion after he had a word with Principal Secretary of State Excise, Valsa Nair Singh.
"The order allows FL3 (restaurants and bars) to retail alcohol, subject to prohibition or restriction made by local authorities. The BMC does not allow the sale of liquor in Mumbai so it does not apply to the city. The BMC is also not allowing delivery or takeaway for alcohol stock. This might happen in the near future, but for now, it is a no-show. NRAI welcomes the move for the state," Katriar said.
Keshav Prakash, director, Vault Fines Spirits, said, "We are talking about two divisions of the government here that are not necessarily interlinked. The excise gives special permission for liquor, and BMC, which is the second department, is involved in people management," said Keshav.
The go-ahead is for all of Maharashtra, depending on zones that allow retail shops to be open. "The order clearly says subject to local municipal corporations. Alcohol sale is an excise issue while people management is a BMC issue. One must wait for the municipal corporation to clear the air."
Vipul Hirani of Crafters Brewery in Powai pointed out one more issue. "If you see point one, it allows FL3 to sell sealed bottles. This means beer on tap is out. We have been pushing the sale of growlers [ceramic, glass or steel bottle or jug used to transport draught beer] to the excise department. However, there has been no relief yet. We hope the department considers our plight and gives us relief soon," said Hirani. Till now, they were citing that it was a global phenomenon. "Last week, Bangalore breweries started the sale of growlers. People are loving it."
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