TIRUPATI: Sale of liquor in the first three weeks of February, during the gram panchayat elections, has come as a blessing for the excise department, as the value of liquor sold went up by 6.76 per cent when compared to the same period last year.
Going by the sales report of the excise department, the overall consumption of alcohol and alcoholic beverages has fallen drastically but the department earned Rs 1,473.91 crore from February 1 to 21, whereas it was Rs 1,380.58 crore during the same period last year.
Around 14.15 lakh cases of Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) were sold, marking a 22 per cent decrease over the sale of 18.23 lakh cases during the same period last year. Similarly, 4.57 lakh beer cases were consumed this year – 22 per cent less than the corresponding figure (5.89 lakh cases) last year.
In all, five districts – Visakhapatnam, East Godavari, Guntur, Krishna and West Godavari — accounted for nearly 53 per cent of all liquor sold in the state during this three-week period, together marking a whooping sale of Rs 793.71 crore. This is against last year’s sales of Rs 732.19 crore in the five districts.
On an average, liquor worth Rs 70 crore was sold in the state during the three-week election period. This is besides the locally made illicit arrack and liquor smuggled from Telangana state, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, that was supplied by candidates in rural areas.
On the other hand, the Special Enforcement Bureau (SEB), police and excise department personnel arrested over 5,000 bootleggers, besides seizing lakhs of liquor bottles, destroying fermented jaggery wash, ID liquor and other freebies, which were reportedly meant for distribution to voters.
Meanwhile, the gram panchayat election has thrown up a new trend with some people, especially youth, going to the extent of demanding liquor rather than money. This trend is expected to play a crucial role in the ensuing MPTC, ZPTC and civic body polls....