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Sale of liquor banned in Mumbai; Shop keepers irked by frequent change in regulations

IT Correspondent
Mumbai, May 6  

Barely within two days, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) decided to shut the liquor and non-essential services shops in Mumbai from Wednesday in view of the “overcrowding and lack of social distancing”.
The order issued by Municipal Commissioner Pravin Pardeshi, read, “ There are multiple reports, news in social media and inputs received from the police and the ward officials that due to above relaxation there have been huge crowds gathering near these shops and it has been impossible to maintain social distancing and there were few instances of law and order situation arising out of such crowds gathering at one place.”
Earlier, BMC had allowed the wholesale and retail liquor shops to open in non-containment zone as per the Central and state government guidelines like “not more than 5 shops in a lane, selling non-essential items, can be permitted to remain open”. However most of the areas of Mumbai fall under Red zone with the number of COVID19 positive patients growing everyday. Thus  the rule of allowing five non-essential shops to stay open in a lane no longer applies to Mumbai.
Maharashtra sold over 16.10 lakh litre liquor worth Rs 62.55 crore on Monday and Tuesday. Notably, Maharashtra earns an excise revenue of Rs 1,500 crores from the sale of liquor every month. However, due to the lockdown, the excise department has been hit by huge revenue loss. It is to be noted that after the Centre imposed a nation-wide lockdown on March 24, a strict ban has been enforced on the sale and manufacturing of liquor in the state.
Now only essential product stores like grocery shops and medical stores/chemist shops will be allowed to remain open during the lockdown extension 3.0. All the AMCs BMC’s 24 wards and Sr PIs of all police stations have been instructed to implement this order and take action under IPC 188 against violators.
In any case, shops in some areas of Mumbai suburbs including Andheri, even grocery shops are allowed to remain open only thrice in a week-Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
However this frequent change in regulations have irked the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA). FRTWA President, Viren Shah, said, “Shopkeepers across Mumbai are shocked and confused. There was no issue with non-essential product stores in Mumbai. Only queues were noticed outside wine shops and not outside non-essential product stores. So why to shut down non-essential product stores?”. “As of now most of the non- essential products have become essential as there is need of kitchenware, garments, new born babies products, toys and indoor games, he added.
In the meanwhile cases of coronavirus crossed 15000-mark in Maharashtra, the total number of positive cases surged to 9,758 with the death toll at 387 in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Raju Vernekar

Raju Vernekar is a Media Professional based in Mumbai and is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. He had served as Chief Reporter at Free Press Journal (1996 – 2015 ). His Activities includes writing for different news papers, script writing/production for TV channels, Films Division. Writing poems in Marathi, Hindi, English, Guiding mass media students and helping people to solve their problems. Raju may be contacted at [email protected]

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