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To skirt Supreme Court’s liquor ban, some state highways give way

Some govts denotify state highways, make them ‘urban roads’ to escape the 500-metre cap, a few others work around the issue. A look at measures on ground

Written by Aniruddha Ghosal , Atikh Rashid , Kanchan Vasdev , Khushboo Sandhu , Mahim Pratap Singh |
Updated: April 5, 2017 11:13:22 am
BAR BARRED: Owners of a restaurant, beside Western Express Highway in Mumbai, block the ‘bar’ on board. Amit Chakravarty

PUNJAB
* Punjab government on Tuesday denotified 30 km stretch of state highways and made them “urban roads” to escape the Supreme Court (SC) ban on liquor outlets and bars and restaurants serving alcohol within 500 metres of state or national highways (NH).

* The state reasoned that these roads were earlier part of state highways, but after construction of bypasses to tackle inner-city traffic, these roads are no longer part of state highways (SH).

* The roads denotified are: Hoshiarpur-Chandigarh, Balachaur-Garshankar, Moga-Kotkapura, Moga-Harike, Gagan Chowk to Liberty Chowk, JCS Saviour School to Bhaironpur Sirhind Chunni Road, Malikpur Chowk to Dalhousie bypass.

* Under the Centre’s existing policy for NHs, certain bypass stretches are already excluded from the highways, a government spokesperson said. There are five such stretches on National Highways 1, 15, 64, 344A and 95.

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RAJASTHAN
* In an order dated March 22, Rajasthan PWD denotified certain sections of SHs. Although the department calls it a routine process for an “integrated road system”, the move is seen as a way to bypass the SC’s main ruling in December last year.

* The order denotifies 25 sections of various lengths from 21 SH in 16 districts. It carves out more than 185 km from SHs. They have been declared urban roads.

MAHARASHTRA
* Maharashtra is looking at denotifying sections of SHs passing through its big cities and towns.

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* On Monday, state Public Works Department brought out two circulars approving denotification of sections of SHs near Jalgaon and Latur cities.

* These sections are maintained by the civic bodies for several years but the roads are officially “highways” in state records, as they were not denotified.

* “In Jalgaon, SH sections with cumulative length of 20.52 km on six highways have been denotified. They will be treated as intra-city roads,” Additional Secretary (Planning), PWD, Prashant Patil said.

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* In Latur, stretches totalling 44.1 km on nine different SHs have been denotified, he added.

* The PWD Ministry has received similar proposals from local PWD officials of Nagpur, Yavatmal, Pune and Jalna districts.

CHANDIGARH
* Around 20 years ago, the Chandigarh Administration had notified all major roads in the city as SH to receive Central funds for maintenance. With all major roads thus falling under the ambit of SC order, the administration constituted a four-member committee to review their classification.

* The committee gave a green signal to denotify the SHs as “major district roads”.

*The decision was challenged in Punjab and Haryana High Court by Harman Sidhu, president of the NGO Arrive Safe and the person who filed the petition on which the SC judgment came.

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* The HC dismissed the petition, and Sidhu has moved SC, where it will be heard next on April 17.

GOA
* Following a revised survey, the excise department of Goa government has identified “1,000 bars that exist beyond 220 meters, where licences can be renewed”, CM Manohar Parrikar said on Tuesday. (SC has allowed the 200-m relief to liquor vends in municipal limits where population is below 20,000).

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* “Remaining 2,200 (bars and liquor outlets) for now will be allowed to shift. We will not charge transfer fee,” Parrikar said.

* The state will also continue restaurant licence for outlets that want to continue at same location by serving only food.

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* For now, Goa has decided to wait and not show haste in denotifying state highways. With a huge debt, the government is looking for Central funds for some infrastructure upgrade and denotifying main highways could stop credit flow, officials said.

HARYANA
* Due to Haryana’s geographical composition, a huge percentage of roads in the state are national highways. Most hotels and restaurants in its key cities — Gurgaon, Panipat, Karnal and Faridabad, among others — are located along NH.

* Thus, officials say, even declassification will not help much.

* Additional Chief Secretary (Excise and Taxation) Sanjeev Kaushal said the government will consider the hotel and restaurant owners’ demands and take a decision soon.

* Gurgaon-based brewer Ishan Grover has started an online petition seeking intervention of President Pranab Mukherjee and PM Narendra Modi to save restaurants and hotels, and jobs of hundreds of people.

WEST BENGAL
* The state is seeking legal opinion. In January, Bengal had found an escape route for bars and hotels along 21-km Eastern Bypass by dropping stretches of the road from list of SH.

* The bypass connects southern suburbs of Kolkata to its northern suburbs, and has several five-star hotels such as Hyatt Regency, ITC Sonar 2, ITC Sonar Bangla, under-construction JW Marriott and The Gateway Hotels & Resorts.

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First published on: 05-04-2017 at 12:57:42 am
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