AMARAVATI : Taking another step towards implementing prohibition in a phased manner, the Andhra Pradesh government has started taking over liquor business from private traders by opening 470 liquor shops as a pilot project.
The government-run shops were opened on Sunday. Officials said 34 more shops would be opened in a couple of days.
The government had last week announced opening 503 liquor shops from September 1 but shops in some places could not be opened due to rains.
The government plans to reduce the number of liquor outlets from 4,380 to 3,500 and eventually phase them out.
Officials said the entire liquor business would be taken over by the government by the month end. From October 1, all 3,500 liquor shops will be run by the government-owned Andhra Pradesh State Beverages Corporation Ltd (APSBCL).
The government-run shops will operate from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. They will not sell more than three bottles to a customer. The private shops currently sell a maximum of six bottles.
The shops opened by APSBCL display a maximum retail price list, timings and also a banner cautioning people that liquor is injurious to health.
In July, a bill was passed in the state Assembly to enable the government to take control of retail liquor business.
Taking over the liquor business from private players is the second major step by YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government to implement the poll promise of implementing total prohibition in a phased manner.
After assuming office in May, Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had ordered the state-wide crackdown on ‘belt shops’ or illegal outlets of the licensed liquor retailers.
The government last week claimed that the move led to drastic reduction in consumption of liquor.
The Chief Minister on August 28 announced that the government will allocate ₹500 crore for setting up de-addiction centres and for other anti-liquor measures.