“I regret that I am presenting the state budget for 2019-20 in the House when both the Centre and State are going through a severe financial crisis.”
These were Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s words while presenting the state budget on 9 September. But now it looks like he has turned to liquor to boost Telangana’s income. When the deadline for issue of fresh liquor shop licenses ended on Thursday, the Excise department estimates that it will net Rs 968 crore from just the process of selling application forms.
In fact, Telangana made more money than before the licenses were issued. This was because in 2017, the application fee was Rs one lakh and close to 41000 applications were received. That time, the state had generated Rs 400 crore through the application process. This time, the application money was doubled to Rs 2 lakh yet the number of applications increased to 48400 for 2216 liquor shops.
One of the reasons for this enthusiasm could be that Andhra Pradesh has embarked on the path of phased prohibition and aims to be completely dry by 2024. Already 20 per cent of the liquor shops have been shut down and the 43000 belt shops that supplied alcohol illegally, permanently closed.
One of the reasons for the jump in the number of applications is that many Andhra traders having lost business, are interested in setting up shop in Telangana.
The towns and village clusters bordering Andhra Pradesh – mainly Khammam, Nalgonda and Mahbubnagar – also see an opportunity to get lot of footfalls from Andhra Pradesh. Already with Andhra Pradesh ensuring that the deadline of 8 pm for closure of liquor shops is strictly implemented, liquor shops in Telangana are witnessing a jump in traffic from across the border late into the evening.