Uttar Pradesh and Punjab might have circumvented the Supreme Court ruling banning liquor shops and establishments serving liquor within 500 m of national and state highways by simply rebranding state highways as district roads, but Madhya Pradesh is walking the straight path and implementing the Supreme Court guidelines in letter and spirit, but even then have seen roughly 10 per cent hike in revenue from auction of liquor shops this financial year.
The state’s stand comes on the backdrop of government’s oft repeated policy of bringing prohibition in the state in a gradual manner.
Excise commissioner, Arun Kochar said they had made it clear during the auction of liquor shops for 2017-18 that the 1300 shops along the highways would have to be shifted and even then we are going to registered a 10 per cent hike in revenue compared to last year. The exact figure would be available as of the 3683 liquor shops, a few still remain to be auctioned. In 2016-17, the state had earned Rs 5760 crores in revenue from auction of liquor shops and they expect to earn around Rs 6350 crores during the current financial year.
“Our revenue is safe, and the liquor contractors cannot blame us for keeping them in the dark,” Kochar said and added, “As of now we have no plans to rebrand any of the state highways in the state.”
However, the Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh wing chairman of Hotels and Restaurants Association (Western India) Sumit Suri said that the department might have got a 10 per cent hike in liquor shop auctions, but there will be a dip in the FL-5 or temporary licenses that are taken for marriage parties, conventions etc. “We expect at least a 30 to 35 per cent dip in income from this category. Most of the convention centres in the state are on state or national highways and they are going to suffer loss of business. In 2015-16, the excise department had earned nearly Rs 4.6 crores in revenue by giving temporary licenses.
Suri said that after losing their case in the Supreme Court, where the hoteliers had sought exemption from the 500 meter rule, they are planning to represent the government to take the path of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab to reduce impact of the SC ruling. “The ruling is a major blow for hotels that serve liquor and fall within 500 meters of highways,” he said.
Total Affected by SC ruling
Hotels 186 20 to 22
Restaurants 78 8 to 10
Clubs 16 4
Vends 3683 1300
(As informed by excise department officials)