New Delhi: On his last day at work, Nilesh Kumar, a salesman at a private liquor vend at Govind Puri here, says he is clueless about his future.
His shop along with 259 other such private vends will wind up their business from Thursday evening as recommended by the Delhi government's new excise policy under which all the 850 liquor vends, including these 260-odd outlets, have been given to private firms through open tender.
The new licence holders will start retail sale of liquor in the city from November 17. In the transition period of nearly one-and-half months, only government-run liquor vends will remain open. The government vends will close down on November 16.
As private liquor shops prepare to shut down permanently, owners and employees of such establishments said they have started exploring alternate options, including venturing into other home businesses like property dealing and looking for jobs in other sectors.
Some are even thinking of retirement.
Nilesh is not alone. Nearly 3,000 such employees are likely to get affected by the closure of private liquor vends in the national capital.
Nilesh says he has no other job or business and is thinking of moving to his hometown in Uttar Pradesh's Moradabad.
"I am clueless about my future. I have no other option left than to go to my hometown and start something on my own. I used to earn good at the liquor shop and I have no other skill to try my hands at. But now due to government's new liquor policy, all private liquor shops are being shut so I will have to go back," Kumar lamented.
Naresh Goyal, president Delhi Liquor Traders Association, said the closure of private liquor vends will have adverse impact on people engaged in this business and owners and managers of such establishments have started looking for alternative arrangements.
"Some owners have other businesses as well so they will most likely shift their focus to those, while some others are thinking of venturing into property dealing business.
"I also know many of people engaged in this business who are searching jobs and even are ready to work as managers at new swanky vends which would function after November 16," Goyal said.
According to the new excise policy, swanky liquor vends will be set up in 32 zones across the city where people would be able to walk-in and choose the liquor brand of their choice. Some of such establishments will also have arrangement for snacks and other eating items.
Goyal further said some arrangement should have been made in the policy to adjust the old vendors as it might create a "chaotic" situation.
He said the closure of private liquor vends would create more problems for 3,000-odd employees at these shops.
Another businessman of the industry, Virendra Kumar Jatav, said the future of nearly 3,000 employees is at stake as they have nowhere to go.
"These employees and even shop owners are looking for other livelihoods such as partnerships in other businesses. Big businessman can get into some other trade but employees of such liquor shops are at the receiving end. Many are going back to their villages or hometowns," Jatav said.
Jatav, who is also engaged with SC, ST, OBC Workers Parishangh, said the government should make some arrangement at least for the employees of such liquor vends to secure their future.
The Delhi government under its new excise policy has divided the city into 32 zones and bid the liquor vends there aiming an equitable distribution of retail liquor business across the city. Each zone comprising 8-10 wards will have around 27 vends.
There are 26 municipal wards in the city where no liquor shops will open after September 30 as they were catered to by private vends only. There are already 80 wards where there are no liquor vends.