Liquor sales show that Chandigarh adults drink 11 bottles of alcohol per month on an average, quite apart from beer and wine. Or annually, they drink nearly 136 bottles of alcohol.
Records show that nearly 200,000 bottles of liquor are sold in Chandigarh every day. Liquor trade insiders say the "high" figure is owing to liquor being cheaper in Chandigarh compared to other places.
Chandigarh saw 65,736,000 bottles of alcohol being sold in 2008-09 to a voting population (above 18 years of age) of 483,982 in its electoral rolls.
This has been revealed in information obtained by social activist Kamal Anand under the Right to Information (RTI) from Chandigarh's excise and taxation department for non-governmental organisation (NGO) People for Transparency for its campaign Stop Underage Drinking.
The information regarding liquor sales during 2008-09 does not include beer and wine. The NGO obtained information on alcohol sales from Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi.
The data showed higher per capita alcohol consumption in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh than in Punjab.
During 2008-09, Haryana's 1.2 crore adult population drank 26.52 crore bottles of alcohol. During this period, 16.28 crore bottles were consumed in Delhi.
In all, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Himachal and Delhi consumed 74.46 crore bottles of alcohol during 2008-09, Anand said here Sunday.
"This is certainly very good news for the alcohol industry but not for the health authorities," he added.
While the World Health Organisation (WHO) global status report on alcohol (2004) recorded alcohol per capita consumption among 15-plus age group at 0.82 litre of pure alcohol, the average of these states and Chandigarh came to 12.44 litres of alcohol annually.
Public health activist Hemant Goswami, who has worked hard to make Chandigarh the first smoke-free city, said: "It is no joke that Chandigarh has a sale of nearly two lakh bottles of liquor every day. The liberalised policy on alcohol sale by the bureaucrats of Chandigarh is responsible for it."
Anand complained: "The Excise Act is specific about the minimum age of drinking being 25. Despite that, there are less than 20 cases registered in these states and Chandigarh in the last 10 years for underage drinking, even though one can see children and youngsters in every bar, restaurant and disco drinking alcohol.
"Despite specific directions in the Constitution, states ill-managed by politicians and bureaucrats take the excuse of finances and taxes generated by the alcohol industry as a reason to promote alcohol."
Goswami said: "The government is spending crores of rupees on public health and de-addiction centres on one hand and on the other, it is promoting the use of alcohol. It is indeed shameful." (IANS)