It seems Gurgaon residents prefer drinking at home and holding small parties rather than going out on Diwali night and other festivals. Instead of shelling out more in terms of taxes at restaurants, most residents are going for a one-day liquor licence that will enable them to hold small gatherings at a venue of their choice.
In April 2015, the Haryana excise and taxation department increased the fee for the one-day permit to serve liquor in parties from Rs.1,500 to Rs.10,000 per permit. The hike was aimed at curtailing the misuse of the licence, especially during Diwali, Christmas and New Year.
Excise department data shows that despite this steep increase in fee, the department has generated almost double the revenue this year.
Vikas Ahuja, a resident of Eldeco Mansionz on Sohna Road, said, “Though the licence fee has increased, we prefer partying at home with friends instead of going out. We still find it economical if the gathering is above 30 people. We play cards and party till late night or even till early morning during the festival season.”
In 2014-15, the department issued 876 licences till Diwali and collected Rs.13 lakh as revenue. In 2015-16, 370 licences have already been issued and Rs.34 lakh generated.
As per the revised rules, commercial venues have to get registered by paying Rs.25,000 annually and then pay Rs.5,000 per function. However, those not registered will have to pay Rs.10,000 per function and will be permitted to hold only five functions a month.
Excise officials said hiking the rate has increased the number of ‘responsible party goers’. Deputy excise and taxation commissioner of Gurgaon Aruna Singh said, “We have been able to reduce the non-serious party organisers, who used to misuse the licence. This has also helped us in increasing revenue while cutting the number of applicants. Efforts will be made to ensure that licences are issued only to the right people.”
The excise department is also keeping a close watch over those applying for the licence. “The excise teams will keep a strict vigil on the venues and will ensure they are using the one-day permit as per the rules and regulation.” Singh said.