Liquor ban won’t hit Mumbai if civic body maintains highways
Around 500 restaurants, bars and hotels along Mumbai’s eastern and western highways that had to shut shop after the SC liquor ban order may be able to find a way out, if the Mumbai civic body decides to take over their maintenancemumbai Updated: Apr 06, 2017 00:49 IST
Around 500 restaurants, bars and hotels along Mumbai’s eastern and western highways that had to shut shop after the SC liquor ban order may be able to find a way out, if the Mumbai civic body decides to take over their maintenance.
The Eastern Expressway and Western Express Highways are state highways maintained by the MMRDA. However, they are also arterial roads connecting Mumbai’s suburbs and have several restaurants, bars and even luxury hotels on them — all of which have been hit by the SC order. If the state, which has said the ban will not apply to highways under local bodies, de-notifies these highways and hands them over to the civic body for maintenance, the liquor vends will be exempted from the ban.
The SC last week, keeping in mind the rising accidents on highways caused by drink driving, ordered a ban on establishments serving liquor within 500m of state and national highways. Sources in government said establishments in Mumbai would not have been hit if a proposal for handing over the highways to BMC a few years ago had not been scrapped over maintenance spending.
The urban development department (UDD) had in 2014 asked the BMC to maintain the two highways after severe criticism from the citizens over potholes.
But the BMC declined to do so as the public works department (PWD) wanted to absorb its employees hired for the work, while the Mumbai civic body also wanted a share in the revenue from hoardings installed on the highways.
“If the BMC comes up with a proposal once again, then as per our policy decision, the highways we will be handed over to them,” said a senior bureaucrat, not wishing to be named.
Four cities — Latur, Jalgaon, Jalna and Yavatmal — have already de-notified stretches of highways passing through their jurisdiction, and are hence unaffected by the SC’s liquor ban order.
Sources said the government is also contemplating de-notifying all highways where there is a bypass available for heavy vehicles, and this will be applicable for Mumbai too.
This would minimise the effect of the liquor ban and come as a relief for a majority of the 15,699 establishments that are currently affected by the ban.
Meanwhile, a silent protest was organised by the families of the owners and employees of hotels and restaurants that were shut down by the Supreme Court order.
They urged the state government to take proactive steps to de-notify the highways, which will help them restart their establishments.
Jayanta Shetty, the owner of hotel Maratha, took part in the protest.
She said, “I have a bedridden husband and his medical bills amount to Rs25,000 a month. I had given the place on lease and the person says he will not be able to run it any longer because of the ban.”
(With inputs from Naresh Kamath)