Liquor sales in Andhra Pradesh are going through the roof despite the state renewing licenses of merely 30 percent liquor shops. The Excise year for Andhra Pradesh is July to June and this time around, within four days, the Excise Department has already recorded sales of stock worth close to Rs 200 crore.
Women activists, especially organisations that have been fighting against liquor stores in unauthorised localities claim that the spurt in sales is all thanks to 'belt shops'. Almost 7- percent liquor shops in Andhra Pradesh are awaiting license for the new Excise year but sales are already breaking records. Rights organisations have blamed unchecked, illegally operating liquor shops that dot the highways or well as residential localities as responsible for the phenomenon.
The Andhra Pradesh government on Tuesday issued a government order denotifying state highways as major roads along districts. The order effectively ensured that multiple shops that sold liquor were up and running, with or without a license. "There is no record of how much sale has taken place. On a district level, we do not maintain it but the head office is in charge," is the response we got from the Excise DC at Ongole when asked about the spurt in sales. He also added that the head office was yet to be fully functional.
However, numbers from AP Breweries Corporation Ltd indicate that stocks worth Rs 18 crore were purchased on July 1, Rs 57 crore on July 2 and Rs 75.01 crore on July 3. Liquor worth Rs 59 crore were sold on July 4. With a minister deeming Beer, a healthy drink, people in Andhra Pradesh have accused the government of encouraging liquor sales by turning a blind eye to unauthorised 'belt shops'.