The Madhya Pradesh government on Monday announced the opening of a second lot of liquor shops in the state. The commercial taxes department ordered that liquor shops located within the municipal areas of Bhopal, Ujjain, Khandwa, Dewas, Jabalpur, Indore and Burhanpur districts would not be opened as of now but in all other areas of the state, liquor shops would be opened.
On May 4, the commercial taxes department had decided that liquor shops within Indore, Ujjain and Bhopal, the three worst-hit districts would not be opened, shops outside the municipal areas in orange districts would be opened and shops in all the green districts would be opened.
On May 18, the department added liquor shops outside municipal areas in Bhopal, Ujjain and Indore and other red districts, all orange districts and green districts to areas where shops can be opened. In other words, shops located in municipal areas of seven districts, Bhopal, Indore, Ujjain, Jabalpur, Khandwa, Dewas and Burhanpur would remain closed.
Sources said with Monday’s decision, about 80 per cent of the liquor stores in the state would be open.
The state government showed urgency in opening liquor stores owing to a massive loss in excise revenue in the first 45 days of the lockdown. Excise was expected to contribute about Rs 14,000 crore to the exchequer in 2020-21 but collections are already down. In April alone, the state lost about Rs 1,200 crore in excise, Rs 700 crore in registration and stamps and Rs 3,000 crore that is normally realised from the sale of petrol and diesel.
Liquor contractors seemed reluctant to open stores and had demanded a relief package from the government. They even filed a petition at the high court.