The Haryana tourism department has leased out a prime land on the National Highway-8 near Rajokri to a liquor shop, defying a ban imposed by the central government. The lease has also been extended for a second year.
The Union transport ministry in a directive had asked all state governments not to allow any wine shop along national highways. But a shop of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), with a restaurant attached to it, is running at walking distance from the Delhi-Jaipur Expressway.
While some motorists stop for buying liquor, others prefer enjoying drinks at the adjacent restaurant.
According to the Haryana tourism ministry, it had rented out the 2,000 sqft of land to a Gurgaon-based liquor trader in 2012-13. The land had been rented out to liquor vendor Sohan Lal Singla, a resident of Sector 46.
The terms and conditions of the lease agreement have been approved by the state government, the tourism ministry said in response to an RTI application filed by a city resident, Aseem Takyar.
According to the ministry’s response, Singla re-applied for the same piece of land in 2013-2014 and paid Rs.48 lakh advance.
The letter also states that the department has decided to lease out the land to the applicant and he has been asked to immediately deposit the advance money to the treasury.
When asked how the land was rented out in spite of a ban, Anand M Sharan, managing director, Haryana Tourism Corporation, said: “It is for the excise department to decide whether the land was leased out according to norms and within the permissible limit.”
Meanwhile, the excise department said it was not aware of any violation. “The land was leased out last year. And I think they have applied this year too. I will have to look into the matter to see on what parameters the land has been leased to check whether it violates any prescribed norm,” said Aruna Singh, duty excise and tax commissioner, Gurgaon.
According to a senior excise department official, the land falls under the jurisdiction of the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG).
Residents complain that many roadside wine shops and ahatas (vacant space attached to liquor vends) create nuisance for them and also encourage drunken driving.