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New Delhi: Alcohol could now be delivered by online retail behemoth to homes in West Bengal, after a notice by the West Bengal State Beverages Corp issued on Friday, according to a Reuters report.

The notice said that Amazon was among the companies found to be eligible for registration with authorities for online retail of liquor.

India is a major growth market for Amazon and the e-commerce company has committed billions of dollars in investments in India in the last few years. With more and more people seeking to buy products online, especially given the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent nationwide lockdown, the e-commerce giant seems to be expanding its operations in the country.

The company has been invited to sign a memorandum of understanding with the state government, the report said.

Also read: Odisha launches online portal for home delivery of liquor

Home delivery of liquor comes after a long battle

Besides Amazon, which is a US-based company, the Alibaba-backed Indian grocery venture BigBasket has also been approved to deliver alcohol in the state, the report said.

India’s top two food-delivery start-ups, Swiggy and Zomato, began delivering alcohol in some cities in May, with the increasing demand for alcohol as many states eased their lockdown restrictions.

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All liquor businesses across the country had to shut shop completely after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown on 24 March, which was then extended several times.

However, when the restrictions were eased in May, India witnessed visuals of hundreds of people lining up in front of liquor shops, many not following physical distancing rules.

The liquor industry had reportedly been lobbying with governments of many states to allow online delivery of alcohol. West Bengal had, last month, invited companies to express interest for “handling electronic ordering, purchase, sale and home delivery of alcoholic liquors from licensed retail outlets” to eligible legal-age consumers in the state.

Also read: How Kerala’s Left govt is using lockdown to wriggle out of UDF’s curbs on liquor


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