Officials in Haryana permanently blocked a road and tweaked rules to help several hotels and pubs in Gurgaon skirt the Supreme Court’s ban on serving liquor close to highways, an order that could cost the state hundreds of crores in revenue.
CyberHub, Sector 29 market, Ambience Mall, the Leela and the Westin hotels are among prominent destinations that were facing dry days for falling under the 500-metre no-alcohol zone around state and national highways set by the top court.
A two-and-a-half feet wall was constructed overnight blocking the road leading from National Highway 8 to the Sector 29 market — where 19 pubs are located —before a committee carried out measurements on Thursday.
The authorities measuring the distance, however, did not visit the road on Thursday and measured distance to Sector 29 market from two other routes. The authorities measured distance of 541 metres from a service lane near The Westin hotel while a route from Signature Tower chowk measured distance of 832 metres, said officials.
The main entry to the sector 29 market, where 19 pubs and bars are located, was also blocked by placing jersey barriers marked with “no entry”.
The committee’s officials also decided recently that the criteria for their calculation will be tweaked for hotels to factor in the first point of sale of alcohol — which could be past lobbies and deeper into buildings — instead of the main gate of the establishment.
“Committee members have measured distance but most of the outlets have not attached approved maps with the request for measurement. We have asked them to provide the maps so that measurement can be matched. If deviated routes do not match the approved maps, we would not accept it,” said Hardeep Singh, Gurgaon deputy commissioner, hinting that the eateries may not be out of the woods yet.
Singh heads the committee of officials from excise department, National Highways Authority of India, public works department, police, and revenue department set up in wake of the SC ruling to carry out measurements.
Haryana urban development authority (Huda) administrator Yashpal Yadav, the agency owning the roads within city limits, said he was not aware of the blockade in the stretch connecting Sector 29 market to NH8.
The measurement for Sector 29 market taken on Thursday was through a road that had earlier been used as a one-way exit.
Haryana’s projected excise revenue for 2017-18 was pegged at Rs 5,700 crore but the ban can potentially burn a Rs 500 crore hole in the earnings.
CyberHub looks set to escape the ban after a newly-opened underpass caused the traffic to be deviated through what may turn out to be a 1,900-metre detour – safely beyond the SC limit.
Routes to Ambience Mall, five-star hotels The Leela Ambience, The Oberoi, and The Trident were also altered to stretch the distance from the highway. The entry to Leela was routed through residential complex Ambience Lagoon, which the residents protested.
Excise official refused to comment on the matter on Thursday.