The Delhi government is working on setting up a web page – and considering the creation of a mobile phone app – to enable home alcohol delivery in the capital, to reduce the massive crowds outside the limited number of liquor stores open. With the lockdowns reduced earlier this week, people began to crowd the few liquor stores that were open.
âWe are in the process of drafting a standard operating protocol. So far, the excise department has had three meetings on this subject with the chief secretary and at least one with the finance minister (Manish Sisodia), âa senior government official said on Friday.
Another senior government official said: âThe web link is in the works, but the app will need several technological changes. So we need more time. The process should also include a link to a reliable payment gateway. The government plans to launch the link by Monday.
The Supreme Court observed on Friday that states should consider the indirect sale of alcohol, either online or through the door-to-door delivery mechanism to ensure that social distancing standards are not violated. So far, several states, including Punjab, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, have started the process of authorizing home alcohol delivery.
Currently, Union Home Affairs guidelines state that e-commerce delivery of goods is limited to essentials (which do not include alcoholic beverages) in red zones (Delhi’s 11 districts are red areas). In addition, the Delhi Excise Act 2009 prohibits the buying and selling of alcohol online.
“However, a temporary provision can still be made under other laws, such as the Disaster Management Law,” the official said.
The Delhi government also rolled out a web link on Friday with which it began issuing electronic tokens, specifying stores and hours, for residents to avoid crowds outside stores and buy alcohol during the allotted time slots.
“Anyone can request an e-token via the link ‘https://www.qtoken.in/’. Their name and phone number will be required when requesting. The e-coupon will be sent to the mobile number. With this electronic token, the person will be allowed to buy alcohol in the nearby store, âsaid a statement released by the government.
Getting the tokens through the web link on Saturday was a distant dream for most people, however, with the page constantly reporting a “server error.” There were also issues in the back-end, due to which, said a senior government official, the excise department could not summarize data on the total number of e-coupons issued on the first day.
Government officials argued that it was because of too much traffic on the page and that the problem would be resolved at the earliest. Excise Commissioner Ravi Dhawan did not respond to phone calls and messages to comment on the matter.
Delhi has 864 liquor stores, of which only 172 have been approved to open so far, as they are “stand-alone stores” meaning that they are not located in markets, malls and commercial spaces, which central government directives prohibit for the red neighborhoods in the area.
The government is open to the idea of ââallowing private liquor stores to operate as well, but a survey by municipal corporations has shown that only 30 of them across the city are considered “stand-alone” stores. .