Delhi govt imposes 70% 'special corona fee' on liquor to boost revenue

Long queue for liquor was witnessed on almost all the wine shops in Delhi (Photo: Sanjay K Sharma)
Liquor in Delhi will cost more from Tuesday as the government has decided to impose a 70 per cent 'Special Corona Fee' on its sale in the national capital, according to news agency PTI quoting sources.

The move will boost the government revenue, which has been hit hard due to the coronavirus-forced lockdown.

"70 per cent 'Special Corona Fee' has been imposed on the MRP of liquor bottles. The new rate will be applicable from Tuesday," said a senior official.

On the first day of rolling up shutters on Monday after a 40-day hiatus in operations due to the lockdown, many government-run liquor shops in the national capital had to be closed within a just few hours as crowds of buyers did not follow social distancing norms.

The police had to resort to use of mild force to disperse the crowds that turned unruly.

According to an official, about 150 government-run liquor shops have been allowed to open from 9 am to 6.30 pm as per the latest lockdown relaxations allowed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

People queued up in large numbers outside the liquor shops on Monday morning, the first day of reopening of the vends since the lockdown began in March. What ensued was utter chaos.

The Delhi Police's Special Branch has prepared a report suggesting that the timing for sale of alcohol be extended to avoid crowding at the outlets. Many people were not aware that only government shops were allowed to open.       

In most areas including Burari, Mayur Vihar, Gandhi Vihar, Rohini and Janakpuri, a large number of people had lined up outside liquor outlets. Markets such as south Delhi's Malviya Nagar erupted with hundreds of people, not all of them in masks, thronging liquor shops. Traffic slowed, cars honked, people tried to capture the commotion on their phones as police tried hard to control the situation.     

Police said two shops had opened in Malviya Nagar but they were shut within hours due to the chaos. In Vasant Vihar, a shop had to be shut within two hours due to an unruly crowd. In Khichadipur, people barged inside one of the shops to buy liquor, they said.An official said an alcohol vend had to be closed in Mayur Vihar in east Delhi as people failed to maintain social distancing norms. Similar cases were reported from north and central Delhi.     

With people gathering in large numbers, the police had to resort to the use of mild force to control the crowds."Shops were asked to shut in places where social distancing norms were violated. At some places, mild force was also used to disperse the crowd," a senior police official told PTI.      

Liquor shops in Anand Parbat and Ranjeet Nagar did not open, but vends in Paharganj area which opened at around 9 am was closed by 12 noon as people gathered there failed to maintain social distancing norms.       

In northeast Delhi, liquor outlets in Jyoti Nagar and Dayalpur were also closed within an hour after they opened due to overcrowding and violation of social distancing norms, the police official.       
"According to an order issued by the government, liquor shops were directed to deploy marshals at the outlets to maintain social distancing. However, a liquor shop near Apsara Border was asked to close since they did not deploy a marshal at their outlet nor were they able to maintain social distancing norms.       

"A large number of people gathered even before the shop opened at around 10 am and within minutes, we asked the liquor shop to shut," a senior police official from Shahdara district told PTI.    

Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) Jasmeet Singh said, "Two liquor shops opened in Kotla village, Mayur Vihar and Khichripur in east Delhi between 9 to 10 am. However, they were closed within 15 minutes after people did not follow police instructions. No marshal was deployed in these shops."         

There were many who waited outside liquor shops but were not able to buy any bottles.        

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