Delhi imposes 70% tax on liquor after unruly scenes at stores
NEW DELHI : Officials in India's capital imposed a special tax of 70 per cent on retail liquor purchases yesterday to deter large gatherings at stores as the authorities ease a six-week lockdown imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Taxes on alcohol are a key contributor to the revenue of many of India's 36 states and federal territories, most of which are running short of funds because of the lengthy disruption in economic activity.
Police baton-charged hundreds of people who had flocked to liquor shops when they opened on Monday for the first time in a relaxation of the world's biggest lockdown, which is set to run until May 17.
The Delhi state government announced the "special corona fee" in a public notice late on Monday.
"It was unfortunate that chaos was seen at some shops in Delhi," said Mr Arvind Kejriwal, the state's chief minister.
"If we come to know about violations of social distancing and other norms from any area, then we will have to seal the area and revoke the relaxations there," he added.
Other states, such as southern Andhra Pradesh, where people also violated social distancing measures to queue up in the hundreds for alcohol, also hiked prices.
The increases come as India reported 3,900 new infections yesterday for its highest single day rise, taking the tally to 46,432.
The death toll stood at 1,568, the Health Ministry said.
Medical experts said the daily increase shows India remains at risk despite the lockdown that has confined 1.3 billion people to their homes since late March, with public transport halted and economic activity nearly frozen.
The biggest spikes were in Maharashtra, Gujarat as well as Delhi. - REUTERS, AFP