In a first, the Airports Authority of India has invited tenders seeking bids from interested players to run a duty paid liqour shop at the airport, with the lowest bid of Rs 2,00,000 per month.
The move is seen as a bid to woo tourists.
According to a report by Majid Hyderi for Asia Times, officials said that around 50 firms have shown interest to run the venture at the airport that caters to some 20 flights or 3500 passengers a day. The outlet is scheduled to start operations from January 1, 2018.
The report goes on to quote the Director Srinagar airport, Sharad Kumar, saying that “All the famous and good quality liquor brands will be available for sales.”
The valley of Kashmir as of now has only four liquor shops, owing to its Muslim majority, which considers alcohol consumption as a sin.
While the High Court had sought the state’s response in June 2016, the state government ruled-out a ban on sale and consumption of liquor. The state’s Finance Minister Dr Haseeb A Drabu has said that “People should decide what they ought to do, we can’t force our will on them.”
Subsequently in March 2017, the Peoples Democratic Party-Bharatiya Janta Party alliance updated the policy for liquor sales.
Interestingly, despite a demand for ban, the state is witnessing an upward trend in the sale and consumption of liquor. Official figures reveal that at least 219,718 bottles of different varieties of liquor was sold in J&K in 2015-16.
Liquor-sale is one of the biggest revenue generators for the state. The government realized Rs 5.3 billion revenue from liquor sales in 2015-16 compared to Rs 4.6 billion in 2014-15. In 2013-14, the department collected a revenue of Rs 4.3 billion from liquor sales in the state.