Andhra Pradesh Government will take over 3,500 wine shops from October 1 in order to regulate liquor in the state. The move will also help to control and regulate the supply in the short term future.
The 3,500-odd liquor shops will run under the government-owned Andhra Pradesh State Beverages Corporation Limited (APSBCL), which will take over the business in a phased manner. Recently, the government also released a circular which said that the working hours of wine shops will be reduced. The government has already taken over 475 wine shops. Since Jagan Mohan Reddy became the Chief Minister in May, the government has closed down 43,000 belt shops. Deputy Chief Minister and Excise Minister K Narayana Swamy said, "Till now, 2,872 cases were registered and 2,928 people were taken into custody for operating belt shops and the government will take firm steps in eradicating illicit liquor. In all, 4,788 cases were registered for preparing illicit liquor and 2,834 people were arrested. So far, 3,448 shops have been taken for lease. The shops will run between 11 am and 8 pm.
The new changes have cracked down on liquor shops heavily, such as no liquor shop should be located within 100m of a place of public worship, educational institution, and hospital, stores should sell liquor at MRP and issue bills, no permit rooms will be allowed and consumption on the store premises is prohibited. The government does not expect the state revenues to decrease once the new rules are implemented. Many private license owners have not renewed their license. Narayana Swamy added, "We have taken this step to resolve problems due to alcohol. The government will provide alternate employment to those dependent on alcohol shops. The revenue will not be decreased by government-run alcohol shops. The bar shops are also open till late night and we are trying to reduce it. No permit room shall be available at alcohol shops". The move will also help the government to receive and keep a check on the money that is earned from the liquor sales.
Jagan Mohan Reddy, during his padayatra last year, had promised to ban alcohol in the state, and this move will be a step towards his election promise. The state government will also be establishing more de-addiction centers in every hospital for those who are addicted to alcohol.