CM defends move to denotify parts of NHs to save liquor shops

CM defends move to denotify parts of NHs to save liquor shops

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday strongly defended his government’s move to denotify some stretches of national highways passing through urban local bodies in the state, saying that it is aimed at saving jobs of hundreds of people who are dependent on liquor stores.

Replying to Pranesh and M B Bhanuprakash (BJP) in the Legislative Council, he denied accusation by the BJP members that the government is planning to circumvent the Supreme Court order to close down liquor shops along National Highways (NHs). “We have already issued notices to owners of liquor shops along NHs and asked them to close down the shops by June 30 this year, as per the Supreme Court order,” he stated.

“We have no intention to circumvent the Supreme Court order. All stretches of national highways passing through urban local bodies (ULBs) are being maintained by the respective ULBs. Hence, the government has decided to recommend to the Centre to denotify these stretches and declare them as local roads. Once it is done, jobs of a lot of people will be saved,” he stated, adding that the government has already filed a review petition in this regard.

The chief minister said that about 6,015 liquor shops are located along 858 km of national highways and state highways in the state.

V S Ugrappa (Congress) warned that the government’s move amounts to defying the Constitution of India.

The Constitution says that any order given by the Supreme Court is the law of the land. So, the government should think twice before recommending to the Centre to denotify certain stretches of NHs.

The government will have a bitter experience if it goes ahead with its decision, he cautioned. The chief minister, however, reiterated that the move is not aimed at circumventing the apex court order. The BJP members said saving liquor shops will lead to harassment of women, especially in rural areas. Many of the states have already imposed prohibition. Karnataka government should follow suit, they demanded.

Siddaramaiah said it is not feasible to impose prohibition. Though the Gujarat government imposed prohibition over a decade ago, liquor is still being sold illegally in many places in that state. Prohibition will not only lead to illegal sale of liquor but also causes revenue loss to the government. But, the government is not encouraging people to consume liquor, he added.

The BJP members staged a walkout as they were not satisfied with the chief minister’s reply.

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