Assam approves home delivery of liquor on experimental basis

The measure will be in force for a month to avoid crowding outside liquor shops in view of the prevailing COVID-19 situation, the Cabinet said

The Assam Cabinet has decided to allow online sale and purchase and home delivery of liquor within the Guwahati Municipal Corporation area as an experiment for a month to avoid crowding outside liquor outlets in view of the prevailing COVID-19 situation.

Assam’s positivity rate has fluctuated between 1.53% and 1.74% over the past few days with more than 200 people testing positive in Kamrup (Metropolitan) district encompassing the corporation area measuring about 217 sq. km.

“We have taken the decision on an experimental basis after witnessing crowing outside liquor shops during the non-curfew hours. The experiment is on the basis of the directives of the Supreme Court and the Madras High Court,” State Health Minister Keshab Mahanta said after the Cabinet meeting late on Wednesday evening.

The Supreme Court had in 2020 left it to the States to consider online sales and home delivery of liquor during the COVID-19 lockdown period to facilitate physical distancing.

“Online sale of liquor will be effective once the notification is issued by the government. The guidelines will be prepared by the State Excise Department,” Mr. Mahanta said.

Assam is the second State in the northeast after Meghalaya to approve home delivery of liquor after adding a clause in the Meghalaya Excise Rules.

Jobs for tea garden workers

Mr. Mahanta said the Assam Cabinet also decided to provide employment to tea garden labourers under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act during the winter season when tea production is less.

“They will be provided work in pond excavation, road building etc., under the rural job guarantee scheme. Valuable trees such as agar [yields high-value perfume] and som will be planted for economic benefit,” he said.

A decision was also taken to utilise the funds under the 15th Finance Commission for building schools, anganwadi houses and parks in villages, he added.

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