A committee set up by the Delhi government has recommended lowering the legal drinking age from 25 years to 21 years in the national Capital, reducing the number of dry days to three and giving licence to department stores to sell wine and beer, the Hindustan Times reported, citing a government official.

If the recommendations are approved, the dry days would be on Independence Day (August 15), Republic Day (January 26) and Gandhi Jayanti (October 2). The official said that the panel also suggested a more equitable distribution of government-run liquor stores across the Capital.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who also handles finance and excise portfolios, had set up the committee in September to suggest ways to increase the excise revenue as well as measures to curb malpractices and evasion of duty in the liquor trade.

The Capital has 864 liquor stores operating under government agencies such as Delhi State Civil Supplies Corporation Limited, Delhi Tourism Corporation and Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation. The panel has suggested equitable distribution of these stores across all the 272 municipal wards, the Indira Gandhi International Airport and the New Delhi Municipal Council areas, the official said.

Currently, 125 department stores sell beer and wine under the L12 and L12-F excise licences. As per these licences, the store cannot keep wine and beer in more than 10% of the total area. The panel recommended easing these licence norms from Financial Year 2021’-22. Last year, the government had refused to renew licences of many department stores after 41 of them found violating the norms.

The panel’s recommendations are yet to be put up in public domain for feedback from stakeholders.