The Maharashtra government has allowed supermarkets and walk-in stores to sell wine to customers. The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday. The move would give an impetus to the wine industry and ensure that farmers get right price for their produce, the state government said.
Farmers across the state produced wine from fruits, flowers and honey but were unable to market them effectively, the government said, according to The Indian Express.
“The government would issue licenses to supermarkets and shops to sell wine,” a Cabinet note stated, according to The New Indian Express. “The condition is that the size of the shops should be minimum 100 square feet.”
Outlets would have to pay Rs 5,000 as an annual fee to the government for the licence, The Times of India reported.
Earlier, only registered wine stores were allowed to sell wine across the state, except in districts like Wardha and Gadchiroli that are covered under prohibition orders. The sale of liquor will remain banned in these districts.
Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis said that the decision would make Maharashtra a “Madha Rashtra” (liquor state), The Indian Express reported.
“The entire focus of the state government is to push liquor policy and mint money,” Fadnavis said. “They [Maharashtra government] seem to have embarked on only one agenda of making the state liquor surplus.”
In response, state minister and Nationalist Congress Party leader Nawab Malik said that the Bharatiya Janata Party should not criticise the decision as states like Goa and Haryana, which are ruled by the party also allow the sale of wine in supermarkets.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said the move would benefit farmers in the state, ANI reported. “We have done this to double [the] farmers’ income...BJP only opposes but does nothing for farmers,” he said.