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Liquor ban on Maha highways

Monday, March 20, 2017
By Raju Vernekar

As the date of the ban on liquor shops located on national as well as state highways is nearing, the bar owners have pinned their hopes on the petition filed by them, which is slated to come up for hearing in the Supreme Court on Monday.

Responding to a bunch of petitions, seeking a direction to amend excise laws to ensure that no liquor is sold alongside highways, a three-judge bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, headed by the then Chief Justice T S Thakur, on December 15, 2016, had ruled that the existing licenses of liquor shops across the highways should not be renewed after March 31, 2017.

The bench had given this ruling in response to several pleas, referring to the 2015 report of the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, which stated that in 2014, nearly 1,46,000 people died and thrice the number were injured in road accidents. The report had also stated that around 1,374 accidents and 400 deaths take place every day on Indian roads, resulting in 57 accidents and loss of 17 lives every hour on an average.

Besides banning e bars and liquor shops on highways, the SC had also made it clear that there should not be advertisements, or signage about the availability of liquor shops and the roads should be absolutely free from any distraction or attractions. The bench had stated that such an order was necessary for the safety of highway commuters who were getting tempted to down a few drinks after seeing liquor shops. It had also expressed serious concerns over 150,000 fatalities every year in road accidents, a majority of which were attributed to drunk driving.

“Based on the SC directions the work of taking stock of the licenses of bars and liquor shops on highways in Maharashtra, is almost complete,” said Pradip Pawar, Deputy Commissioner of State Excise adding that a sizeable number of bars are located within 500 metres of national highways. As per the SC order, the licenses should not be renewed, unless the hotels are located beyond 500 metres. from the highways.

Speaking to Afternoon D&C, Adarsh B. Shetty, President of the Indian Hotel & Restaurant Association (AHAR) said, “The association has requested the Supreme Court to provide information about how the ban order will be implemented and the guidelines to relocate the bars away from the highways since the closure will throw several lakh people out of employment.”

Due to the ban, the nearly 12,967 bars and liquor shops along the highways are expected to be closed down and the Maharashtra government is expected to lose the annual revenue of over Rs 6,000 crore. Maharashtra is ranked second in terms of revenue collected by way of the excise duty on liquor sale.

In Maharashtra, the bars and hotels located within 500 metres of highways include Tunga, Four Points, Shikara, Davis, Yogi, IBS and other hotels located on the Sion-Panvel highway. Similarly, there are over two lakh hotels and permit rooms in the country, located within 500 metres of national and state highways. Now the liquor vendors in several states, including neighbouring Goa, will have to be relocated, in response to the SC order.

Did You Know

  • As per the 2015 report of the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, in 2014, nearly 1,46,000 people and thrice the number were injured in road accidents. The report also states that around 1,374 accidents and 400 deaths take place every day on Indian roads, resulting in 57 accidents and loss of 17 lives every hour on an average.
     
  • Due to the ban, nearly 12,967 bars and liquor shops along the highways are expected to be closed down and the Maharashtra government is expected to lose the annual revenue of over Rs 6,000 crore. Maharashtra is ranked second in terms of revenue collected by way of the excise duty on liquor sale.

Statistics of bars along the highways in Maharashtra
Konkan

  • The liquor shops within 500 mtrs from highways – 1,480,
  • The shops away from this limit –6,189.
  • Total number of liquor shops – 7,669.

Kolhapur

  • The liquor shops within 500 mtrs from highways – 2,225.
  • The shops away from this limit - 946.
  • Total number of liquor shops –3,171.

Nashik

  • The liquor shops within 500 mtrs from highways – 1,347.
  • The shops away from this limit - 950.
  • Total number of liquor shops –2,297.

Pune

  • The liquor shops within 500 mtrs from highways – 3,192.
  • The shops away from this limit - 839.
  • Total number of liquor shops –4,031.

Aurangabad

  • The liquor shops within 500 mtrs from highways – 2,224.
  • The shops away from this limit –1,699.
  • Total number of liquor shops –3,923.

Nagpur

  • The liquor shops within 500 mtrs from highways – 2,499,
  • The shops away from this limit - 973.
  • Total number of liquor shops –3,472.

The association has requested the Supreme Court to provide information about how the ban order will be implemented and the guidelines to relocate the bars away from the highways since the closure will throw several lakh people out of employment.
 - Adarsh B. Shetty, President of the Indian Hotel & Restaurant Association (AHAR)

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