You might want to reconsider your party plans in Goa as the country’s prime destination for revellers has been badly hit by the Supreme Court ban on liquor sale within 500 metres of highways.
Around 3,200 outlets, including bars, hotels, resorts, casinos, and even super markets which sold alcohol, have been forced to take drinks off their menu.
“It is going to severely affect the business which Goa, as a party destination, used to get, as people will have to hunt places where they can enjoy a drink,” said Duttaprasad Naik, president of Goa Liquor Traders Association.
A restaurant owner in Margao, on condition of anonymity, said this season has been disastrous. “First demonetisation, and then they imposed the election code of conduct. And now, to make it worse, we have this decision.”
He said owners had already incurred 40-50% losses due to the earlier two decisions, and the SC ruling was set to add to the pile-up.
Explaining the numbers, Naik said 789 retail wine shops have been affected as they fall within the 500-metre limit. Also, 2,289 bars and restaurants, which includes iconic O Coqueiro, will have to withdraw their liquor menus as will the largest and most popular mall in Goa, Mall de Goa in Porvorim.
“The worst-hit are those which are spread on a huge property as relocation is definitely going to cost them a lot,” Naik said.
Excise commissioner Menino D’ Souza said while in most areas, 30–40% shops and restaurants have been affected, in Vasco, the biggest area in South Goa, 90% outlets have been hit.
“Vasco has been badly hit as it has one state highway and a national highway cutting through it from both the sides. Once the order is fully implemented, only a handful of alcohol shops will remain,” the commissioner said.
The Goa Liquor Traders Association has been opposing the decision and trying hard to get an exemption like Sikkim and Meghalaya. Members even met chief minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday, asking him to intervene in the matter.
Criticising the way in which action is being taken, Naik said, “The excise department has measured the distance as the crow flies,” and called for measurement of the motorable distance to the outlet. “We can probably save 1,000 units if that is done.”
As a casino manager in Porvorim put it: people come to party and relax in Goa, and so, would not prefer places which refuse alcohol.