The Supreme Court’s order to ban all liquor shops on national and state highways across the country and licenses of existing shops not be renewed after March 31, has prompted a unique demand for diversion of routes of highways that pass through some towns and villages.
The Supreme Court had on December 15, 2016, ordered a ban on all liquor shops on national as well as state highways across the country and made it clear that licenses of existing shops will not be renewed after March 31 this year.
The offices of the national highway division of state Public Works Department as well as National Highway Authorities of India, have been getting such demands from the villages which are likely to be ‘affected’ by the court order.
“The liquor shops are there since a long time and their business is set with dedicated customers and demand. Suddenly the SC decision has come.
“This will not just be revenue loss but a change in local market as not all customers of the shops go on state or national highway and drive recklessly. It is a pressure tactic by the villagers opposing the decision,” said a senior PWD officer, who has been dealing with villagers for construction of national and state highways across the state.
“Some resolutions have cited excuses like traffic congestion, village safety or some religious fair getting affected. But the real reason is ban on liquor shops,” he said.
“Before the SC took the decision, rest of the things (like traffic congestions, safety issues) were happening from time to time, still there was no objection. Some of the village representatives admitted privately that liquor shop ban has created pressure on them to come up with the demand for diversion of state/ national highway,” the officer said.
Around 15,000 bars and liquor shops in Maharashtra are likely to be closed with the implementation of the SC order.
A delegation of hotel and restaurant operators across the state has also sought intervention of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in the matter.
State PWD minister Chandrakant Patil told that there have been some demands from villagers for diverting the state or national highways.
“I have been informed about such demands and I have asked the officers to prepare a proper report of the demands. I am on a state tour and will look into it once I return to Mumbai,” Patil said.