Liquor vends go high and dry

Liquor vends go high and dry

SC ban: Court order shuts highway watering holes, revenues hit

Liquor vends go high and dry

Thousands of liquor vends, clubs and pubs went high and dry as authorities went full steam to enforce a Supreme Court order banning liquor sale along highways, even as states gauged revenue losses.

In Karnataka, the state’s Wine Merchants Association is considering meeting Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

“The Supreme Court order would impact about 60 to 70% liquor licences issued in the state,” the association’s general secretary Honnagiri Gowda said.

In Delhi, 100 restaurants, liquor vends and bars, including those in five star hotels along the six national highways passing through the state stopped serving alcohol.
Even though the state’s excise department is planning more action, it is currently caught up with complaints from many licence holders who  claim their outlets do not fall within the 500 metre range laid down by the apex court.

In the neighbouring Noida, the number of vends no longer serving drinks is 42; out of total 292 bars in Gurugram, the order would impact 106, officials said.

In Kerala — one of the highest liquor consuming states — 1,956 liquor bars and toddy shops were affected.

These include outlets run by the Beverages Corporation and Consumerfed; 11 bars in five star hotels, bars in 18 clubs, 586 beer/wine parlours and 1,132 toddy shops have been told to stop serving liquor.

Kerala is expecting losses both in terms of revenue and tourism. State Excise Minister G Sudhakaran, however, has made it clear that the apex court directions would be followed.

In Goa, about 30% of liquor outlets have shut down following the court order. Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday met representatives of liquor traders to look into their issues.

The Supreme Court has in an order said that liquor vends within 500 metres of national and state highways will have to shut down from April 1.

The court has given some exemptions to Sikkim, Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh. 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.

In West Bengal, the police and excise were keeping a vigil on both the national and state highways so that the order was strictly followed.

However, people staying near the Kona Expressway said that liquor was sold through the rear doors of many shops that were shut.

When contacted, an excise official said that round-the-clock screening was being done and bar owners had followed the instructions of not opening the outlets.

“A bar owner, shocked by the order of the apex court said, “We were completely surprised by the order. We do not know what to do now. Our business has been badly affected.”