Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Liquor prices in Odisha are set to go up by five to 10 per cent from April 1 with the State government deciding to increase license and application fees for manufacturers, suppliers and retailers in the new Excise Policy for 2023-24.

However, several liquor sellers and anti-liquor activists have expressed their dissatisfaction over the minimum guarantee quota (MGQ) and opening of beach shacks respectively.

As per the policy coming into force from tomorrow, except beer, all other liquors will be dearer. While the cost of 180 ML liquor bottle will increase by Rs 10, the cost of 750 ML bottle will be dearer by Rs 40-50. Moreover, rate charts will be displayed in front of the liquor shops. The wine shops cannot be named after any God, Goddess or persons of repute, the policy maintains.

“New licenses for ON shops will not be issued for rural areas. People should buy liquor from licensed shops. They should not buy and drink spurious liquor. The shops selling spurious liquor are being raided in different parts of the State,” said Excise Minister, Aswini Patra.

As per the new excise policy, there will also be a marginal increase in excise duty for Indian-Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and minimum guarantee quota (MGQ). This will lead to an increase in retail prices to the tune of five to 10 per cent.

Several liquor sellers have expressed their resentment over the development.

“The government is only concerned about collecting revenue. With the increase in price of liquors, government will get more revenue. However, it will be very difficult for us to achieve the minimum guarantee quota,” rued Prabhat Das, a liquor seller.

The new excise policy also states that, the opening of beach shacks will be approved in the State for the promotion of tourism. The state government has announced guidelines for serving liquor in the shacks. The shacks can be opened near different water bodies such as rivers, lakes and dams apart from sea beaches. The license will be granted only to the Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) and not to any private operator in this regard. Moreover, hotels will be allowed to open more than one bar on premises.

Several anti-liquor activists are up in arms over this announcement.

“The development will ruin more families in Odisha. Religious sentiments will be hurt if liquor shops will be opened near sea beaches and other water bodies. We will not tolerate this kind of policy framed by the government. We will intensify our protests against the new policy in coming days,” said Malaya Tripathy, Secretary of Milita Nisha Nibarana Abhijana.