After NH ban, government set to speed up booze licences

Most liquor shop owners, who had pulled down their shutters when the SC order came in, are facing huge losses each day they don't open. The apex court earlier on March 31 reserved its order on banning off liquor vends on state and national highways. Jugal Kishore Pant, excise commissioner, said, "Only 35 shops and 77 bars will benefit from the cabinet's decision to denotify state highways, many shops will still have to be shifted".

However, the Public Works Department told the court that the government had not issued an order declaring this road as a State Highway.

The argument did not cut ice with the opposition Congress which claimed it was just a "pretext" for helping liquor trade which is a major source of revenue.

He said the excise department has permitted retailers to return their unsold stock to wholesalers or to transport stock to outlets in the interiors.

Officials of both Punjab and Rajasthan governments said that the denotified roads were only bypassed stretches.

Kerala said the State had narrow stretches of highways traversing the length and breadth of it.

Recently, the SC ordered liquor shops and bars within 500 metres of national/state highways should be shut down while hearing a PIL filed by NGO Arrive Safe.

Officials said they had received peculiar requests to de-notify national highways at a time when the Centre plans to take the length of such roads to 2 lakh km from the existing about 1 lakh km.

Meanwhile in several places people protested attempts to relocate liquor vends in their localities.

After the protest in the state against the shifting of liquor shops to residential areas, Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Rahul Bhatnagar on Wednesday said the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, excise officer and the Police Commissioner have been directed to jointly finalise the place before shifting any shop to ensure that such incidents are not repeated.

  • Joanne Flowers