New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Indian restaurant aggregator and food delivery company is now aiming at delivering alcohol to the doorsteps of its customers, a report by news agency Reuters stated, as the company seeks to cash in on high demand of liquor amid the coronavirus lockdown.

Amid the pandemic when several restaurants are closed and people refraining themselves from ordering outside food due to fears of catching the contagion, Zomato has already diversified itself into grocery deliveries.

Alcohol stores, closed nationwide on March 25, were allowed to re-open on Monday, leading to chaos and queues of hundreds of people outside liquor stores in many states, ultimately resulting in baton charges by police to enforce social distancing protocols.

To deter the large crowds, the Delhi government even introduced a "Special Corona Fee" of 70 percent on top of retail alcohol prices, while Mumbai shut its liquor stores within two days of reopening them.

There is currently no legal provision for home deliveries of alcohol in India, something that industry body International Spirits and Wines Association of India (ISWAI) is lobbying to change in conjunction with Zomato and others.

"We believe that a technology-enabled home delivery based solution can promote responsible consumption of alcohol," Mohit Gupta, Zomato's CEO for food delivery, wrote in a business proposal to ISWAI, as reported by Reuters.

Zomato would target "areas that are relatively less affected by COVID-19," Gupta wrote in the unpublished document, submitted to ISWAI in mid-April and seen by Reuters.

However, Zomato did not respond to a request for comment.

ISWAI's executive chairman Amrit Kiran Singh said states should allow alcohol deliveries to help boost state revenues hit by the lockdown.

"The challenge is to ensure revenue from alcohol continues to be available. It is imperative they (states) reduce the load on the retail counter by encouraging home delivery”, he said as quoted by Reuters.

Backed by Ant Financial - an affiliate of China's Alibaba - Zomato bought Uber's Indian food delivery business in January.

Its main local rival is Swiggy, which is backed by China's Tencent and which Singh said ISWAI had also contacted. Swiggy also declined to comment.

Posted By: James Kuanal