Alcohol can be a drug for some while a very essential mode of revenue for the other.
Often the authority of the Indian police is questioned when a few of them commit heinous crimes. We got to know through various articles that the police have been involved in selling the liquor during the times like today. We are not questioning the entire unit but just the people who are into this mess.
There are end number of ways to earn money. But when you are running a state, the major way to earn money is through the mode of alcohol. India is among a handful of countries, including Thailand and South Africa, that has stopped alcohol sales while imposing a nationwide lockdown. Alcohol is directly in control of the state governments. The silent war between the state leaders and the PM have become quite a hot topic for discussion. The PM has banned the sale of alcohol during the loc Blocking the sale of alcohol has left the states dried up with their funds and it has led to a loss of about Rs 700 crore which is actually the liquor tax revenue. Punjab has removed the ban on liquor sale because the government doesn’t actually see a point in stopping the only source of direct revenue. There are three major issues which come with the closing of liquor shops. They are:
- Corruption in the most respectable units: POLICE
The police, who are the prime authority to maintain discipline in a country and who are looked up by everyone are getting their hands dirty in this trade. Although we are not generalising all the police personnel but due to some, rest are also being questioned. The shutters of most of the shops were closed but they were actually selling liquor. In the first two weeks of April, more than 150 people were arrested for allegedly illegally supplying liquor. Among them were a Delhi poli constable who is treated as the mentor for all, according to data shared by Delhi Police. Someone who has been given the authority and has been given the stake of being the guardian of the society, is doing a crime like this.
Price is on a surge too. The bottle of a popular brand that is priced at Rs 600 is being sold at Rs 1000. There seems to be no stop at this mess. The police have seized 686 bottles of illicit liquor, 722 gm of heroin, 60 kg of poppy husk, 3 gm of smack, 4,443 intoxicant pills, 70 litre of hooch and 640 gm of opium in the small town of Bathinda.
During the initial weeks of April, the excise department raided and looted the west Delhi, Punjabi Bagh district for selling the alcohol at higher rates.
A few police personnel in Mathura have been arrested and suspended after it was found that illicit liquor seized at an outpost was being sold by them. Constable Satyendra Pachauri and constable Anil Kumar stole the liquor bottles from somewhere and then sold them in the district. The main issue which is highlighted here is that if the police is doing all this, what will the people do?
If this is the behaviour of the people who are supposed to be the pillars of the law during times like these, imagine what are the people of the nation going to face later on?
- Hazardous liquor: HEALTH ISSUES
Since the alcohol shops are closed and the alcohol isn’t available anywhere, the wrong kind of liquor is being sold and people are actually consuming it. For a person who is addicted to the drink, he is finding it everywhere. A small shop in dingy lanes commonly called a Sahasi is the hidden treasure for him. These small illegal shops sell the liquor which is not certified and is not right for the health. This alcohol is priced very low which basically tells us that it is a cheap fix and not the right one.
Punjagutta police arrested the security guard of 10 Downing Street and seized liquor worth one and a half lakhs. He was found selling it during the time of this lockdown and it is also said that this alcohol wasn’t fit for consumption and can cause serious harms if taken in a weird way.
- REVENUE LOSS
“Liquor is a major source of revenue for all states,” said the CM of Punjab. He has questioned the government about the lack of funds and has also accused the central government of not providing any funds to the states. The alcohol industry accounts for a whopping 15-30% of liquor sales revenue for the states. This data is given out by the International Spirits & Wine Association of India (Iswai). They have also ascertained that in 2019-20, states have earned ₹2.5 trillion in taxes from alcohol sales. The major chunk of this revenue can be used for the pandemic. After the two weeks of the nationwide lockdown, West Bengal, Karnataka and Delhi were reportedly considering “partial loosening” of alcohol curbs for immediate revenue generation, some by allowing home delivery. Since April 13, Assam and Meghalaya had opened up their liquor shops to operate for a few hours every day but this decision was taken down after the union government announcement. On April 20, the health minister of Mumbai said that the alcohol shops can be open if the norms of social distancing are followed. For the last financial year 2019-2020, Maharashtra’s alcohol sales generated a revenue of Rs 24,000 crore, Uttar Pradesh Rs 26,000 crore, Telangana Rs 21,500 crore and Karnataka Rs 20,000 crore. It is not a surprise that the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies and International Spirits and Wines Association of India, have written to the government to allow the resumption of liquor sales.
The government of Punjab is just asking the PM Modi for the GST arrears which are due to the state so that they can develop and progress in desperate times like today.
The question arises that where is the money of the government going? Is it going for the right issues or just to silence people and making statues?
Apart from this, the fee on the real estate transactions and on diesel and petrol is also a major source of revenue. Some leaders have also said that the tax revenues would fall by about Rs 2.9 lakh crores and would lead to a lot of money shortage in the economy. If the revenues of the governments fall by such a drastic number, they will try to increase the duty on other goods which are under them. This will lead to a vicious price increment cycle and the poor will get supressed of their basic necessities like always!
It is found that the central government is emerging stronger while the state governments are becoming weaker. If this issue regarding alcohol isn’t solved, huge danger prevails from all the sides which can turn the country into shambles.