The Supreme Court on Friday exempted the hilly regions in Uttarakhand from the highway liqour ban. The ban will hold in the plains districts of Hardwar and Udham Singh Nagar and plains areas of Dehradun and Nainital districts.
The Supreme Court order of December 15, 2016, banned liquor shops within 500 metres of state and national highways. On March 31, however, the order was modified for areas with less than a population of 20,000. For such areas, the area of prohibition was reduced to up to 220 metres from highways. The court also exempted Sikkim and Meghalaya from the order because of the “hilly terrain” of the states.
Uttarakhand, which too has hilly areas, approached the Supreme Court after the March 31 order. “Using the judgment for Sikkim and Meghalaya as the basis of our argument, we approached the Supreme Court in April asking the court to exempt Uttarakhand from the ban owing to its peculiar geographical terrain,” Ramesh Singh Chauhan, deputy commissioner (excise), who is the nodal officer looking into the case in the Supreme Court, said.
The Uttarakhand government presented Google maps of Uttarakhand and Sikkim in court to show the similarities in terrain of the two states. “Most towns in Uttarakhand are along valleys, which have hills and rivers a few metres from the highways. Hence, it was impossible to implement the Supreme Court order here (in Uttarakhand),” Chauhan said.
The Supreme Court on Friday exempted nine districts —Chamoli, Rudraprayag, Uttarkashi, Champawat, Pauri, Pithoragarh, Bageshwar, Almora, and Tehri — from the ban. In Dehradun district, three tehsils — Chakrata, Tyuni and Kalsi —were exempted. And in Nainital district, four tehsils — Dhari, Nainital, Betalghat, and Kosya Kutauli — have been exempted.