March 10: In a bid to promote locally-produced wine, the government of Madhya Pradesh plans to open 15 wine and liquor stores in popular tourist places that will sell wines made from grapes in Ratlam and other regions of the stat, and wine festivals will be hosted by the government in Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur and Gwalior to promote these local wines as the new policy is announced in April 2020
Aiming to increase income of grape growers in the state and promoting cultivation of wine-quality grapes, the ruling Congress government led by Kamal Nath, has decided to permit opening 15 new outlets at tourist places across Madhya Pradesh for promoting wine made from grapes. The annual License fee of these outlets will only be Rs. 10,000.
Wine quality and table grape farming is already happening in a few parts of Malwa-Nimar (adjoining Maharashtra) as well as Ratlam district of Ujjain division. A group of wine quality grape farmers have reportedly set up their own winery in Titari village of Ratlam district. From a successful harvest on one acre in 1985, grape cultivation has spread to 850 acres in the village (in 2018). Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Zinfandel and Chenin Blanc are the commonly grown wine grape varieties here.
Women friendly stores
Women shopping at roadside liquor shops to buy wine or liquor feel uncomfortable and unsafe. To alleviate this problem, the government of Madhya Pradesh has decided to introduce liquor shops/ thekas where women can buy liquor safely. So far, they have announced two stores in Bhopal and Indore each, as well as one each in Jabalpur and Gwalior. ‘Kamal Nath government has further decided to set up two exclusive shops each in Bhopal and Indore for enhancing alcohol consumption in women, one each in Jabalpur and Gwalior,’ according to a report in Newsd.
Although Nath is known to be an avid red wine drinker, it is highly unlikely he would act to enhance alcohol consumption in women, though he would love for the consumption to go up to generate higher excise taxes. In this context, it might have been better to open wine and beer only stores to encourage women to shop. But all the same, it is a good gesture to empower women in their choices in drinks.
These stores will provide high-end liquor; wine and whiskey that are popular amongst women, and will also open markets for sale of expensive alcohol in the state. Malls and upmarket places are preferred locations as women feel comfortable buying liquor in such environments.
ICP Keshri, the additional chief secretary of the commercial tax department reportedly says that foreign brands currently not sold in the state will also be found on the shelves. However, there will be no additional excise duty. The state government aims to increase excise revenue by Rs. 2,000 crore in the year. The price of liquor is expected to shoot up by 15% from April 1, 2020, under the new policy, however, according to the report.
For an earlier Article, read Blog: Wake up Madhya Pradesh
With the current political instability in Madhya Pradesh, it would be curious to wait and watch how the situation pans out during the next few days, with Chief Minister Kamal Nath struggling to hold his post and keep Congress Party in control of the State-editor
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