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HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh , July 30, 2013

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday told Punjab and Haryana governments to direct all deputy commissioners to take action against the illegal liquor vends within 30-metre distance of the highways as per the Punjab Scheduled Roads and Controlled Areas Restriction of Unregulated Development Act.

The court also directed the local bodies as well as the excise and taxation departments concerned to carry out surveys of all such liquor vends on the highways in the states and submit report by September 3.

The directions came from a division bench comprising chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and justice Augustine George Masih while hearing a public interest litigation filed by Arrive Safe Society, a Chandigarh-based non-governmental organisation.

During the hearing of the case, the court directed the counsels appearing for various parties in the case to find out what were the international norms of the distance of liquor vends on the highways.

Speaking for the bench, the chief justice said, "Our problem is enforcement. In other countries, repeated violators lose licence for a year and later even permanently."

Taking a serious note of the large number of liquor vends by the side of highways, the chief justice observed, "Earlier, there used to be Verka vends on highways where people stopped for refreshments, but now they stop at liquor vends and then drive, which is dangerous."

The petitioner had sought directions to the Punjab and Haryana governments not to issue licences under the excise and taxation policy for the installation of liquor vends along highways, as per directions issued by the union ministry of road, transport and highways vide a letter dated December 1, 2011, to all states and union territories.
185 illegal liquor vends on Panipat-Jalandhar NH

The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), in one of its several reminders, had written a letter to four Haryana and five Punjab deputy commissioners on August 4 last year to remove encroachments by 185 illegal liquor shops by the side of a stretch of 291 kilometre of the Jalandhar-Panipat national highway. The NHAI had also mentioned that since "it is well known that the liquor shops are owned by influential people", hence the district administration's assistance was required for their removal. The state is yet to remove all liquor vends.