Liquor-buying in Delhi no more ‘jail-like’ experience, shops to undergo transformation: Sisodia

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New Delhi, Mar 22 (PTI) Liquor shops in the national capital will now undergo a transformation and buying alcohol will no longer be a 'jail-like experience', Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said Monday, as the AAP government announced a new excise policy that lowered the legal drinking age from 25 to 21. He also said an international test lab will be set up here to check the quality of liquor being supplied into the city, and the concept of 'Age Gating' will be introduced.

'The current retail experience is like a jail. When you go to a shop, there is a grill and people rush and throw money to buy liquor. There is no dignity. It will no longer be like that,' Sisodia said.

Announcing the new excise policy approved by the Delhi Cabinet on Monday, Sisodia said there will be no government-run liquor shops in the city now.

'We have decided that in Delhi no new liquor shop will be allowed to open. After 2016, the Delhi government has not allowed any new liquor shop in Delhi. More than 60 per cent of liquor shops come under the state government. We have also noted that 40 per cent of private liquor shops give more revenue than state government-owned shops,' Sisodia told a press conference.

'So we have decided that the government will get out of the liquor retail business. Because revenue leakage in government shops are taking place. We have also decided that any liquor shop should be in a minimum of 500-square feet area,' he said.

As per new norms, the shops will not have any counter facing towards the road. Liquor sale and pick up will only take place inside the shop and nothing will take place outside the shop.

'The liquor shop owner will have to ensure law and order outside the shop. If needed, they can take the help of police or CCTV or security guard but ensuring law and order will be the responsibility of the liquor-shop owners. No drinking outside the shop, no hawkers will be allowed.

'Bootlegging and Illicit liquor will stop in these areas,' the Deputy CM said.

'To stop harassment of people and establishments, consumption age will be same as in the majority Indian states at 21 like Noida (Uttar Pradesh). New rules will be introduced to make sure that people who are under the age of 21 do get access to the establishment that serves liquor without supervision.

This means that below 21 children will not be allowed inside the restaurants where liquor is served if they are coming alone or in a group of underage children, he said.

“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 and the SOP will be made with the industry,' Sisodia said. PTI GJS TIR TIR