With summer knocking on Delhi’s door, beer lovers are in a fix as they are on the lookout for chilled bottles of their favourite brands, but in vain. Most liquor vends in Delhi seem to be turning them back empty-handed.
Under the current excise regime in Delhi, four undertakings of the Delhi government DSIIDC, DTTDC, DSCSC and DCCWS are engaged in retail liquor sales through more than 550 stores across the city.
Speaking to the news agency PTI, officials concerned refuted the complaints about popular brands missing from the shelves but admitted that tenders have been placed by corporations for refrigerators and chillers and they will be available at the shops soon.
No reaction was available from the corporations on the lack of refrigeration facilities at the vends run by them.
A consumer outside a liquor store near the DSIIDC office in Connaught Place complained about the unavailability of beer brands.
“They are offering brands whose names I am hearing for the first time. None of my two-three favourite ones is available,” he said.
Another consumer in Laxmi Nagar complained that the liquor shops were not selling chilled beer.
“I used to pick up a couple of bottles and drink them after reaching home. Now, they are selling beer at room temperature,” he added.
People running the vends admitted that refrigerators were unavailable and so a majority of consumers, many of them youngsters, were returning empty-handed.
A senior excise department officer said the complaints of brand unavailability are generic and there was no specific complaint of any brand of beer missing at the shops.
He, however, said the corporations have placed tenders and refrigerators will be soon available at the liquor shops.
Liquor industry sources said Delhiites gulped down 1.2 crore cases of beer last year each containing 24 bottles or cans.
Vinod Giri, director general of the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies, said consumers in Delhi drink nearly 15 crore bottles of beer every year. The demand is skewed towards the three months of summer which accounts for nearly six crore bottles, he said.
Giri listed several reasons for the shortage of popular beer brands, including the lack of captive production in Delhi and dependence on suppliers located in others states.
“In summers, when supply is low, those states force the companies to cater first to the local demand to protect their taxes. Also, company margins are low in Delhi and during short availability, the companies tend to direct supplies to the more profitable markets,” he said.
Delhi shops have limited stocking space and a low number of shops in the city naturally means low total stock holding. Some companies are hesitant to supply to government-owned shops due to compliance-related concerns. In Delhi, now all shops are owned by the government, he said.
Giri further claimed that many of the issues were related to the excise policy itself and unless the policy was fixed, they were likely to persist.
There are also other issues that are rooted in other states and the Delhi government has limited ability to influence that, he added.
(With PTI inputs)