Lower legal drinking age to 21 years: Delhi government panel
An expert committee constituted by the Delhi Government has recommended lowering the legal drinking age in Delhi from 25 years to 21 years as well as reducing the number of dry days in a year to three. The panel—set up for suggesting ways to boost excise revenue—has also suggested issuing licenses to departmental stores for selling soft liquor like beer and wine. Here's more.
The expert panel recommended that Delhi's legal drinking age be fixed at 21 years at par with several other states. Also, it recommended bringing down the number of dry days to three: Republic Day, Independence Day, and Gandhi Jayanti. Along with suggesting issuing licenses to departmental stores for selling soft liquor, it recommended bringing the entire wholesale IMFL trade under a single government corporation.
Apart from recommendations on the legal drinking age and dry days, the expert committee also suggested the distribution of government-run liquor stores across Delhi should be more equitable, said a senior government official. This recommendation is aimed at ensuring equitable access of liquor supply to all residents so that there are no "unserved" and "under-served" areas with the help of ward-wise liquor vend allocation.
Delhi currently has 864 liquor vends operated by various government agencies like Delhi Tourism Corporation, Delhi State Civil Supplies Corporation, and Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation. However, they aren't distributed equally. So, the committee said each of the 272 municipal wards should ideally have three vends, totaling 816, apart from 24 vends in NDMC regions and six others at IGI Airport.
The committee was constituted by Delhi's Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, who also holds the portfolios of Finance and Excise, in September to "transform the nature of liquor trade commensurate to the changing stature of the capital." It was set up to suggest measures to increase excise revenue, including ways for simplifying liquor pricing mechanism and checking malpractices and evasion of duty in the liquor trade.
The recommendations of the expert panel will be put in the public domain soon for suggestions and feedback from stakeholders as well as Delhi residents. Next, the report will be submitted to the Delhi Government and 24 days later, the Delhi Cabinet will take the final decision. The approved recommendations will be included in the excise policy for FY 2021-22.