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Haryana

HARYANA-Ahatas in GST net, must shut by midnight

February 22, 2020 07:51 AM

COURTESY HT FEB 22 Ahatas in GST net, must shut by midnight
NEW EXCISE POLICY: Move to regulate ahatas; eateries and adjoining bars have to register with food safety authority and pay GST, property tax
Leena Dhankhar

leena.dhankhar@htlive.com

Gurugram : People running ahatas – spaces for consuming liquor near vends – will have to pay Goods and Services Tax (GST) and register with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), as per the new excise policy.

Ahatas, technically known as ‘Anumat Kaksh’, are dedicated spaces with small eateries outside liquor outlets to stop people from drinking in the open.The licence fee for an ahata has been set at 3% of the licence fee of the respective zone fee for that particular area, said officials.

HC Dahiya, deputy excise and taxation commissioner (west), said that ahatas cannot operate beyond midnight, but bars and restaurants can operate until 3am, by paying an additional cost of ₹20 lakh, at ₹10 lakh per hour.

Liquor vends will be shut midnight and strict action and penalties will be levied on those found violating excise rules and regulations, said officials. “The licensee is required to have proper structure and furniture, and maintain a clean and hygienic environment. The ahatas shall not be operated in an open space without boundary. The perimeter of the same has to be confined and enclosed, and shall not be a thoroughfare or a crossing being used by the general public,” he said, adding that the new policy has specified rules for running these establishments.

Officials said that the insides of ahatas should not be visible to passersby and the access to such establishments should be through a well-defined entry. “The overall objective is to prevent drinking in public, in full view of the passersby. Anumat Kaksh can only be operated from a place adjoining a vend,” said Dahiya.

The excise policy has no separate licence for ahatas, unlike bars and restaurants, and they would run as part of the liquor vend that they are located next to, said officials.

The restaurant association of the city alleged that their business is badly affected by these ahatas, as they operate beyond permissible limit without paying any additional cost.

They alleged that the ahatas, which dot most of the upscale commercial and even residential areas of Gurugram, are not playing by the rules anymore. “They (ahatas) were planned as authorised drinking places, with the overall objective to prevent drinking in the open. However, against norms, the ahatas are being run as full-fledged air-conditioned restaurants with entertainment facilities. These outlets are not compliant with GST, FSSAI, fire safety and pollution norms as restaurants should be, and also do not contribute to the revenue of the state in the form of taxes. This has put both the restaurateurs and the state government at a disadvantage because of an uneven playing field in conducting business for the former and loss of revenue for the latter,” Rahul Singh, president of National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), said.

Hotel owners said the issue is that none of the ahatas is operated by licence holders. “The excise policy for 2020-21 has ratified our concerns by substantially increasing the licence fee for operating an ahata and making it mandatory for them to get GST and FSSAI licences. The operator is required to have a proper structure and will have to pay commercial taxes, as applicable for any other commercial establishment. They would not operate beyond the hours prescribed for liquor vends,” said Singh.

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