The row over liquor licences dominated the second day of the assembly session on Tuesday. The Opposition staged a walkout over allegations that the AAP government was promoting alcohol in the city.
Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said prohibition in Delhi would serve no purpose if people could find it in other states; conversely, he said that his government had no intention of earning revenue through the sale of liquor. “A section is deliberately misleading people and trying to create a wrong perception about the government. Since we have come, the number of liquor shops has actually reduced as many MLAs have got liquor shops closed down in their constituencies on complaints by residents,” he said.
The debate was started by AAP MLA Pankaj Pushkar who wanted to know how many licences had been issued by the government in the past one year. “The government has given powers to mohalla sabhas to decide on closure of liquor shops, but is there a Bill for this? Will existing licences also come under the purview of this order?” asked Pushkar before leaving to join a Swaraj Abhiyan-organised public hearing on the closure of a liquor vend in Karawal Nagar.
BJP’s Vijender Gupta also accused the government of promoting alcoholism in the city, saying that licences issued in the past one year have been twice that of the previous year. “The government was also promoting microbreweries which are yet to take off, thanks to DDA,” he said and walked out with the other BJP MLA Jagdish Pradhan.
Sisodia, who shared details of licences issued by the government, said with reference to L-6 (issued for the opening of retail vends of Indian liquor and beer in the public sector) that in 2014-15, 380 licences were issued and 386 each in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
Gupta countered that the number of L-12 licences (for retail vend of beer and wine in department stores) had gone up from 74 in 2014-15 to 118 in 2015-16 and 136 so far this fiscal.
“In L-1, which is issued for wholesale vends of Indian liquor, the number of shops has come down from 78 in 2014-15 to 73 in 2015-16. How can anyone say that our revenue is doubling from liquor? The only increase in revenue is through the government’s attempts at curbing corruption, by preventing theft of revenue. The proposal for microbreweries is also old but microbreweries exist in Haryana, which has a BJP government. We would like to know whether BJP has a policy to control liquor sale,” said Sisodia.
The minister also said that the involvement of politicians in liquor shops should also be probed.