BY RAMNATH N PAI RAIKAR | NT
PANAJI: Goa is perceived as the ‘Land of Liquor’, with Feni unofficially known as the official state beverage. It is therefore no surprise that Goa with absence of liquor prohibition policy like say, in the state of Gujarat, is fast moving towards touching the five-figure mark as far as the number of bars and restaurants serving liquor as well as liquor shops is concerned.
The state, in the year 2011-12 had altogether 8,365 bars, restaurants serving liquor and liquor shops, as per the register of the state excise department. The previous year, this number stood at 8002.
The latest figures further informed that in the year 2011-12 North Goa – Tiswadi, Bardez, Pernem, Bicholim, Sattari and Ponda talukas – had 4,640 such bars, restaurants and shops, while South Goa – Sanguem, Canacona, Quepem, Salcete and Mormugao talukas – had 3,725 such outlets. These outlets consist of retailers selling Indian made foreign liquor as well as country liquor for consumption, retailers selling IMFL and CL in sealed bottles, wholesalers of IMFL, and finally wholesalers of CL.
The maximum number of outlets is found to be in the first category namely retailers selling Indian made foreign liquor as well as country liquor for consumption. The highest number of such outlets in North Goa is found in Bardez taluka at 1,152, followed by Tiswadi taluka at 782, while in South Goa, highest number of such outlets is registered in Salcete taluka at 1,472, followed by Mormugao taluka standing at 508.
In the category namely retailers selling Indian made foreign liquor as well as country liquor in sealed bottles, Bardez taluka leads in North Goa with 459 such outlets, while Salcete taluka is ahead in South Goa with 364 outlets. In the wholesalers segment for IMFL, Bardez and Salcete talukas again top in North and South Goa, respectively with 53 such outlets each. In the final category – wholesalers of CL – Bardez taluka, in North district has such 32 outlets, while Salcete taluka, in South district has such 14 outlets.
Talukas like Bicholim and Sattari in North Goa, and Sanguem, Quepem and Canacona, have comparatively lesser number of outlets in all four categories. Interestingly, most of the retail liquor outlets in Pernem taluka are along the coastal region, while those in Tiswadi taluka are located in the city area. In the Salcete taluka, the retail liquor outlets are equally distributed in Margao city, rural areas and coastal region. Similar types of outlets have increased to a certain extent in the Bicholim, Sanguem and Sattari talukas, with this increase directly proportional to the rise in the mining activities in these talukas.
The state excise commissioner, Mr Menino D’Souza told The Navhind Times said that in a state like Goa, which is free from liquor prohibition, consumption of liquor is a more important aspect than the number of liquor outlets.
"An outlet is just another point, where a customer can go and have the drink," he added, pointing out that the outlet could be in the neighbourhood of the customer, or few paces away, with the customer willing to travel any distance for his drink.
However, the excise department cannot quantify the amount of liquor consumed in the state, as a tourist may just buy a sealed liquor bottle from a shop and gulp down its content on the road, or on a beach. In such cases, it is impossible for the department to measure the amount of liquor gulped down.
As regards issuance of licences for the liquor outlets, the excise department, besides issuing permanent licences to bars, restaurants and liquor shops, also gives seasonal licences for outlets such as seaside shacks, which operate during certain period of the year. The department also issues occasional licences for events like wine or liquor festivals organised for few days, or for a party, held during a particular night.
As per the regulations of the excise department, the sale of sealed liquor at the wholesaler outlets should end at 9 p. m, while the retailers serving liquor can operate their bars, restaurants or pubs until 11 p. m. It was informed that the retail outlets serving liquor can extend their timings on certain occasions, till 5 O’clock, early morning, by payment of fixed fees.