As many as 619 liquor shops that are within 500 metres of national and state highways in six districts of western Uttar Pradesh will be shut in compliance with a Supreme Court order.
Officials said that the directions of the court will be complied with and the closure will hit revenue by around Rs744 crore. However, officials said that nearly 277 of 619 shops can be relocated, after which the revenue dip will be around Rs478 crore.
Of the 619 identified shops, 59 are in Ghaziabad, 46 are in Gautam Budh Nagar, 175 are in Bulandshahr, 94 are in Hapur, 193 are in Meerut and 52 are in Baghpat. Of the 277 shops that can be relocated, 29 are in Ghaziabad, 25 are in Gautam Budh Nagar, 78 are in Bulandshahr, 18 are in Hapur, 99 are in Meerut and 28 are in Baghpat.
The Supreme Court, in its order issued on December 15, 2016, cited increasing incidents of drink driving and accidents on highways as reasons for the order. The court had directed all states and union territories to stop issuing a licence for sale of liquor along national and state highways.
The court had directed that no liquor vends must be visible from a national/state highway or be directly accessible from a highway or situated within 500 metres of the outer edge.
“The process of relocating the 277 shops in going on.However, apart from 277, the others will have to be shut down as it is not possible to relocate these shops. Of the 619, nearly 310 are located adjacent to the national highways while 309 are located along state highways. A net loss of nearly Rs478 crore is estimated, even if 277 shops are relocated,” Jainendra Upadhyaya, the deputy commissioner (excise), Meerut division, said.
The major highways passing through the six districts are NH-24, NH-91 and state highway 57.
In Ghaziabad, officials have not accounted nearly 80 liquor shops on stretches of NH-58 and NH-58E, which were denotified from the category of national highways in 2016. Also, liquor vends located along the Yamuna Expressway will not be affected as the road is not categorised a highway.
However, these stretches are accident-prone due to the availability of liquor in roadside shops and frequent instances of drink driving.
At present, the six districts in western UP have 2,207 liquor shops — 1,048 of countrymade liquor, 521 of Indian-made foreign liquor, 534 beer shops and 104 model shops.
According to National Crime Records Bureau statistics for 2014, the maximum number of fatalities in road accidents were reported in Uttar Pradesh, at 11.5%, followed by Tamil Nadu, at 10.7%, and Maharashtra, at 9.6%.