UP’s closed highway liquor shops get 11-month breather
Confirming the move, additional excise commissioner, UP, Ram Sagar said the affected liquor shops were being granted time till April 2018 to shift to new locations.lucknow Updated: May 15, 2017 16:03 IST
In a major relief to liquor shops located within 500 metres of the highways, the Uttar Pradesh excise department has given them an 11-month breather by directing them to relocate by April 2018 in accordance with the recent Supreme Court directive. These shops, however, will remain closed till then but neither their licence nor their liquor quota will be revoked till the extended deadline.
The decision has been taken as 3000 of the existing 8000 liquor shops in the state, which were hit by the apex court’s directive, were unable to find new locations to shift despite the May 15 deadline.
- As per the UP excise department, Uttar Pradesh has around 25,000 liquor, beer and model shops through which the department earns around Rs 6400 crore annually for the state. Around 8000 (35%) of these shops were located within 500 metres of highways and as a result needed to be shifted in accordance with the apex court’s directive. However, with 3000 of these shops still shut, the department was set to lose around Rs 1500 crore by way of refund hence the deadline was extended to April 18 for them to relocate.
The deadline and the strict stand of the department had led to many protests by these liquor shop licence holders demanding that their registration/licence fee for the year 2017-18 taken by the department be refunded. This would have resulted in a loss of about Rs 1,500 crore for the department.
Confirming the move, additional excise commissioner, UP, Ram Sagar said the affected liquor shops were being granted time till April 2018 to shift to new locations. “However, none of these liquor shops would be allowed to function at their present place in accordance with the Supreme Court order,” he made it clear.
The apex court had recently observed that easy access to liquor on highways led to accidents as many drivers buy and consume alcohol while driving. The court ordered that no liquor shop be allowed to function within 500 metres of a highway. The court had set April 1 as the deadline for closure of such liquor shops, the state excise department also ordered its closure and extended the deadline for their relocation to May 15, warning that action would be taken against those who failed to comply with the directive.
The move saw owners of around 8000 liquor shops of UP suddenly facing prospects of heavy loss. Subsequently around 5000 of these shops managed to shift to newer locations away from the highways and started functioning. But the remaining 3000 shop owners failed to find appropriate sites to relocate. This led to numerous protests by such liquor shop owners. The excise department too was facing prospects of losses worth crores of rupees. As a result, the department has now granted these shop owners time till April 2018 to comply with its orders or else their licence will automatically expire then.