EVEN ON Tuesday, the UT Administration could not take a final call on declaring the state highways as major district roads. Despite a meeting of all the officers till evening, the administration postponed the decision. Sources said that it was decided to seek further legal opinion on the matter. As all the main roads in the city are state highways, the majority of the liquor vends are going to face closure. However, a committee formed by the UT Administration recommended that the roads be de-notified as the state highways and declared as major district roads which would not lead to closure of the vends. Deputy Commissioner Ajit Balaji Joshi said, “No final decision has been taken in this regard as of now.” A senior official said, “Since it is the Supreme Court’s judgment on the issue, there has to be a strong plea that is to be taken before denotifying it as state highways.”
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After getting to know about the UT’s move, activist Harman Singh Sidhu who filed a petition seeking removal of liquor vends from the national and state highways in the Supreme Court had also given a representation to UT Administrator V P Singh Badnore saying that the UT was trying to dodge the implications of the order by de-notifying the state highways in Chandigarh to prevent closure of their liquor vends.
As per the recommendation of the committee, liquor vends at only one stretch from Vikas Nagar that is the national highway are likely to face closure if this proposal is approved.
The Supreme Court had passed the order in December 2016 stating that liquor vends falling within 500 metres of the state and national highways would have to be closed from April 1, 2017.
Besides the vends, the bar licence of restaurants, bars and hotels on these roads would also not be renewed. The order of the Supreme Court has left the Department of Excise and Taxation in a fix as the administration has already notified a majority of the roads as state highways in the city and a majority of the liquor vends would have faced closure.
The administration had issued a notification in 2006 declaring all V1 (fast roads connecting Chandigarh to other towns), V2 (arterial roads) and V3 roads (fast vehicular sector-dividing roads) as state highways.