Thousands of bars, restaurants impacted as highway liquor ban comes into effect

"States are free to realise revenues from liquor licences in the overwhelmingly large swathe of territories that lie outside the national and state highways and the buffer distance of 500 metres", it said. Goa has seen around 30 percent of its liquor outlet shut down following the Supreme Court order. "The government has assured us that almost 1,000 liquor outlets fall in this category", Naik said.

DMK Working President M K Stalin said the shops that were being shut should not be relocated in the same vicinity, adding employees, however, should not be affected.

Liquor in Goa is priced cheaper compared to several other states in India, thanks to a liberal excise regime. It also held that areas with a population up to 20,000 may have liquor vends at a distance of 220 metres from the highways.

Denotifying highways appears to be coming across as the most preferred option for several states hit by the ban.

"There are 10,000 hotels and restaurants across Maharashtra that have stopped serving liquor", said Adarsh Shetty of AHAR.

There is a saying in Hindi, which can be translated something like this, "When God closes a door, he opens another", and this saying makes more sense in the present scenario after the Supreme Court banned selling of liquor within 500 metres of national and state highways.

The Supreme Court errs in banning outlets that sell liquor within half a kilometre of a national or a state highway, except in towns with fewer than 20,000 residents.

Over 100 liquor bars and outlets have been told not to serve liquor in the capital, majority located on the National Highway 8 stretch between Airport and Mahipalpur.

The SC bench had expressed displeasure over the alleged inaction by various states in removing liquor shops along the roads which give rise to drunken driving and consequential fatalities.

He said the government is also looking into the possibility of sale of liquor through toddy shops. "An increase in revenue is expected as the reserve price fixed for auction is already 15 per cent more", said sources in the Excise and Taxation Department.

Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi, also agreed with the associations and said that the 500-metre distance should be reduced.

However, a perceived attempt to find an escape hatch for off-shops (takeaway outlets) by converting them into on-shops (where liquor can be consumed but food is not served as in regular bars) appears to have collapsed following the Supreme Court clarification today.

  • Leroy Wright