Liquor shops and bars on highways will reopen

Pandurang Mhaske
Saturday, 5 January 2019

The decision comes close on the heels of the Supreme Court (SC) order exempting gram panchayat areas that have an urban nature from its earlier order banning liquor shops within 500 metres of National Highways and state highways across the country.

Mumbai : Closed liquor shops and bars including bars and wine parlours, in the gram panchayat areas adjacent to state and national highways can now reopen if the population of that particular village is more than 3,000 and if the gram panchayat is in a periphery of three kilometres of any municipal corporation or within the distance of one kilometre of Nagar Panchayat or Parishad following an order from the excise department on Thursday. 

The order also allows liquor shops to reopen in tourism zones. The decision will benefit approximately 1,500 permit rooms, 400 country liquor bars and 700 bear shops across the state.

The decision comes close on the heels of the Supreme Court (SC) order exempting gram panchayat areas that have an urban nature from its earlier order banning liquor shops within 500 metres of National Highways and state highways across the country.
 
Excise Commissioner Ashwini Joshi issued a notification to all district collectors excluding dry districts (Wardha, Gadchiroli and Chandrapur) asking for renewing the licences of the wine shops and beer bars if they are fulfilling the conditions. This order does not meant to allow new bars to open in the state. Only those bars that were shut earlier following the SC order would be opened,” said an officer from the excise department. 

However, sources said applications for bars in new three-star hotels would be entertained in the light of the order. 

It was in December 2016, the Supreme Court first issued an order banning liquor shops within 500 metres of state and national highways. Later, it was amended to exempt municipal areas. The court had asked the State governments to decide where to open the shops. In a more recent order, the SC also exempted gram panchayat areas having an urban nature from its order. This has led to the reopening of all shut outlets.

Meanwhile, Kishore Tiwari, President of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, expressed his displeasure over the government’s decision. “This is result syndicate of corrupt bureaucrats and the liquor mafia. Both of them silently allowing the bars alongside the highways,” he alleged.

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