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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

One for the road: Liquor tax for cheaper bus ride

Neelam Pandey, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 24, 2014
First Published: 00:49 IST(24/7/2014) | Last Updated: 00:56 IST(24/7/2014)
Soon, every pint of alcohol that you down will, likely, chip in towards making the Capital a superior city – one with cheaper public transport, smoother vehicular movement and cleaner air. The Delhi government has plans to make liquor costlier by Rs. 1-2 per bottle, and use the fund accumulated to subsidise mass transit systems, a step that will also address the problems of traffic jams and pollution.
 
According to senior Delhi government officials, the matter was taken up earlier this month in a meeting of a high-power committee on air and water pollution constituted on the directions of the lieutenant-governor.
 
It was proposed at the gathering that the excise department should charge Rs. 1-2, or more, on the sale of every bottle of liquor, which can help in reducing the burden on the city's commuters. Senior officials in the excise department said that the issue is being examined and they will impose this tax soon. In the meeting, transport, excise and environment departments were asked to work out the modalities.
 
"Right now, a DTC AC bus ride from your home to office and back costs about Rs. 50. This is not a small amount for middle-class families and, hence, they end up buying two-wheelers or small cars. We are scaling up non-motorised transit and public transport. We need resources to meet the capital and operational needs. We have to lower bus fares to discourage car use. If we increase the cost of a bottle of liquor by Re 1, it is not going to affect anyone too much," said a senior Delhi government functionary.
 
Officials added that a corpus kitty called urban transport fund should also be created, which is a part of Delhi's five-year plan to improve air quality. "A portion of this source can be used to lower bus fares. The issue of creating an urban transport fund to meet the resource needs of public transit systems was taken up in the meeting. It was decided that we have to cross-subsidise public transport fare to attract more and more people. Since public transport needs to meet societal and environmental goals, it cannot be treated as a commercial enterprise and taxed," said another senior Delhi government representative.
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