Tussle between task force and excise on liquor MRP
DECCAN CHRONICLE | A RavindraÂ Seshu
Kothagudem: The increasing raids by task force teams on belt shops (BS) have been seen as a problem to the excise officials in Bhadradri-Kothagudem district. For, the task force wing is working under state excise commissioner, who is also head of the excise officials in the districts.
The state government has encouraged the belt shops to increase the excise revenue after formation of Telangana state. The belt shops created two to three new crorepatis in each mandal as the liquor was sold more than the prescribed MRP.
Though the belt shops are not in the formal system, the government allowed them to operate in order to earn more revenue to the exchequer. It therefore closed its eyes on the sale of liquor at prices higher than the MRP.
Excise inspectors held meetings with the wine shop dealers who got the licences and asked them to sell liquor to the belt shops.
The volume of liquor sales witnessed a three-fold increase. The flip side is, the excise officials failed to check the sale of liquor at prices more than the MRP. In some belt shops, the 750ml premium liquor costs Rs 300 more than the marked MRP. Belt shops earned more profit than what was earned by the wine shop dealers.
In view of this, wine shop dealers themselves are now running belt shops in various villages. One dealer in Gandugulapalli in Dammapet mandal got a belt shop in an unofficial auction for Rs 16 lakh. The amount will be given to the Gandugulapalli gram panchayat to be spent for repair of the school or the local temple.
In some assembly segments, ruling party legislators are collecting massive sums from wine shop dealers for running belt shops.
The state intelligence in a report explained to the government how the MRPs of liquor brands were being violated in the belt shops.
With this, the excise task force headed by excise commissioner started raids on belt shops and are collecting details on MRP violations, but not on sale of liquor. Sale of liquor in belt shops is also a violation of rules, but the taskforce and the government are cleverly ignoring this.
Excise inspector Narender Reddy was suspended for the sale of liquor for more than the MRP in belt shops. A task force team recovered Rs 12 lakh worth of liquor supplied to two belt shops. A case has been filed for illegally shifting the liquor from one spot to another.
An excise official said, "Our role is quite confusing. The government encouraged belt shops. Controlling the price in belt shops is not an easy job once belt shops are allowed. We as excise officials are reeling under pressure from higher officials of the excise department and the taskforce, both headed by the same authority, the excise commissioner. This is a double-standard of the