Delhi govt reducing legal drinking age will stop youth from visiting NCR towns for booze: Officials

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New Delhi, Mar 22 (PTI) The excise policy reforms, reducing the drinking age from 25 years to 21 years, approved by Delhi government on Monday is expected to prevent young people of the national capital from going to neighbouring NCR cities to quench their thirst for alcohol, officials said.

The scaling down of legal drinking age was recommended by a Delhi government's group of ministers (GoM) on excise policy reforms, which got approval of the Delhi Cabinet.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the legal drinking age as recommended by the GoM will now be 21 years in Delhi. 'To stop harassment of people and establishments, consumption age will be same as majority Indian states - 21 years like Noida in Uttar Pradesh,' Sisodia said.

He, however, warned that the new rules under the revised excise policy will make sure that those under the age of 21 years cannot have access to the establishments that serve liquor.

'The international concept of 'age gating' will be introduced. Delhi will be the first city in India to ensure this to make sure that there is no underage drinking in Delhi,' he claimed.

Excise department officials said higher legal drinking age was the 'prime' reason behind the young generation in Delhi visiting NCR towns like Noida where it is permissible to serve alcohol to those aged 21 years.

'This also meant loss of significant amount of revenue as those youngsters having disposable income as professionals go outside Delhi to buy liquor and have it at bars and hotels in Noida and other cities in neighbouring states,' said a senior Excise department officer. An expert committee formed by Deputy Chief Minister on excise policy reforms has also suggested reducing minimum age of drinking to 21 years. The Section 42 of the Delhi Excise Act, 2009, explicitly bars the licence holder or any person acting on his behalf to sell or deliver liquor to any person apparently under the age of twenty five years. 'The committee is of the view that the permitted drinking age in Delhi be brought in line with the majority of states of India and the same may be fixed at 21 years as there is transmigration of residents of Delhi from age group of 21-25 to neighbouring states to consume liquor and return back,' it had recommended.

A survey conducted by community social media platform LocalCircles revealed that opinion was divided over reducing legal drinking age.

'We did a support level check and 50 per cent of Delhi residents supported changes in minimum age to purchase liquor from 25 to 21 years in line with NCR cities,' said Sachin Taparia, founder and chairman of LocalCircles.

The deputy chief minister said in some states like Andhra Pradesh and Goa, the permissible drinking age is 18 years while in UP, MP, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Assam, Odisha and Tamil Nadu, the age of consuming alcohol is 21 years.

The Excise department expects to mop up an increased revenue of Rs 1,500-2,000 crore per annum following implementation of the reforms approved by the Delhi Cabinet. PTI VIT TDS TDS