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Chhattisgarh on Sunday allowed online sale and home delivery of liquor in the state claiming it will help prevent its black marketing during the ongoing lockdown. The opposition parties have criticised the move as “insensitive” and “irresponsible” and said the government should instead be focusing on mitigating the shortage of essential medical supplies including oxygen and vaccines, hampering the fight against Covid-19 across the state.
Government officials on Sunday said the home delivery of liquor beginning May 10 will help curb its illegal manufacturing, sale, transportation and possession during the lockdown, when liquor shops are closed.
“The timing for the home delivery has been fixed from 9 am till 8 pm. The district administration can change the timings as per the local situation. Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited (CSMCL) will decide which wine shops will provide home delivery service and customers will have to make payment in advance…,” an order issued by the state excise department stated.
It said up to 5 litres of liquor could be booked per person on the CSMCL website or its app with an additional charge of ₹100 for home delivery, available within 15 kms of the concerned wine shop.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC) said the government’s move was insensitive.
“…In [the] present condition, the state needs[s] davaa (medicines) not daaru (liquor ), but the government is shameless… This is the most apathetic decision of the state government and not in the benefit of people. The government is worried about… commission of liquor not about the common man,” BJP leader and spokesperson Gauri Shankar Srivas said citing the shortage of medicines and injections in parts of the state.
Chhattisgarh on Saturday reported 12,239 Covid-19 cases and 223 deaths, taking the infection count to 8,42,356 and the toll to 10,381, a health official said.
Excise minister Kawasi Lakhma backed the decision saying it was taken to prevent liquor smuggling from other states.
“As the state is under Covid-19 curfew for about the last two months, liquor shops have also been shut. This has paved the way for the illegal smuggling of liquor from surrounding states. Our police force is working hard to stop this. Secondly, there have been numerous incidents of death due to poisoned, local and syrup consumption as liquor shops are closed,” Lakma said and pointed out to a recent incident when nine persons died in Bilaspur after consuming syrup in place of liquor.
JCC chief Amit Jogi claimed that the incumbent government’s priorities had changed. “This is the same government which got a mandate for prohibition of liquor in the state and now is delivering it to homes when people need vaccination.”