Hyderabad: Despite the Supreme Court’s ban on liquor shops on highways, the Telangana government is betting big on earning more revenue from the sale of liquor and by issuing fresh licences to liquor shops, hotels, clubs and bars to fill its coffers this year.
The apex court ban on the sale of liquor in outlets within 500 metres from highways will be applicable in the state from October 1.
However, the Telang-ana government is pre-paring a new excise policy to ensure that the apex court order does not have any major impact on its liquor revenue.
Instead of issuing fresh ward-wise licen-ces from October 1 as is being followed now, the government is planning to issue mandal wise permits, wherein applicants will have the choice to set up liquor shops anywhere they want in a particular mandal by adhering to the 500-metre highway norm.
The number of liquor shops and bars are also going to increase shar-ply as the government plans to relax population criterion to earn Rs 20,000 crore from the liquor sales this year as against Rs 13,000 crore last year.
With the state government setting a higher revenue target this year for the excise department, the officials are exploring all options to meet the target.
“If we allow liquor shops ward-wise like now, it may not be possible to find a suitable location to set up liquor shops or bars due to the Supreme Court’s ban on liquor vending near the highways. Apart from this, there is a possibility of locals in a particular ward resisting setting up of liquor shop. Due to these reasons, we want to take mandal as a unit and allot shops giving choice to owners to set up shops where they want, in a particular mandal limits in compliance with the SC norms. This way, we can have a maximum number of liquor shops in state,” said an official.
The proposal has been submitted to the government for approval and officials said the AP government has also adopted this method to issue liquor licences.
The other options being considered to increase revenue from the excise department includes increasing the licence fee, boosting the sale of foreign liquor from Rs 4,447 crore last year to Rs 8,200 crore this year and hiking taxes on premium and foreign liquor brands.
At present, the state has 2,300 liquor shops and 900 bars. Officials plan to increase the number to 2,500 and 1,000 respectively by relaxing norms.