Hyderabad: The prohibition and excise department is struggling to contain the illegal sale of foreign liquor in the state. A grey market is thriving, posing challenges to the department.
The grey market is active as foreign liquor is priced much lesser, which is forcing tipplers to opt for the grey market than go for the regulated liquor shops.
“A 750 ml Black Label whisky, for example, is priced at `4,500 in the regulated outlet. On the other hand, the same brand is sold for `2,500 in the grey market. Whether the bottle is genuine or spurious is another point,” said Mr D. Venkateshwara Rao, president, Telangana Wine Dealers’ Association.
Smugglers are sourcing the contraband from various sources. “Basically, the liquor is sourced from China and Malaysia via the sea and air routes. The foreign liquor is then bought by the organised syndicates and distributed across the country, including Telangana,” sources said.
Huge profits are attracting smugglers into the illegal trade. “With no taxes or duties, the profits are fully pocketed by the smugglers that run into lakhs of rupees every month,” said an excise official.
A few traders have import licences to bring in the liquor from foreign countries. The stock is kept at warehouses managed by the central board of excise and customs. Neverth-eless, the liquor is finding its way into the grey market from the warehouses by evading taxes.
The excise department last week had arrested Harish Singh who was absconding with eight cases pending against him. He used to generate Rs 50 lakh per month from this illegal trade.
According to sources, the sale of foreign liquor in the grey market is reportedly three-fold to the sales at the regulated liquor outlets, including retail shops, bars and clubs.
Mr Akun Sabharwal, director (enforcement), excise department, said that the teams are working out a strategy to curb smuggling of foreign liquor. “Our teams are tracking down the syndicates. Due to our efforts, we were able to nab Harish Singh and his associates,” he said....