By denotifying highways, Uttarakhand saved only 35 liquors vends, ₹150 crore
The state government’s denotification order had come days after the Centre implemented Supreme Court order banning all liquor shops falling within a range of 500m from the edge of the national and state highways.dehradun Updated: Apr 11, 2017 16:18 IST
Dehradun: The move of the Uttarakhand government to denotify 64 state highways and categorise them as other district roads to safeguard its excise revenue from liquor shops is not going to yield the desired results.
The state government’s denotification order had come days after the Centre implemented Supreme Court order banning all liquor shops falling within a range of 500m from the edge of the national and state highways.
A majority of the liquor shops in the hill state are located along the highways and had to be shut down. The government was expecting to get the shops reopened after denotifying the state highways as urban or local roads. However, the excise department officials have now found that most such shops still need to be relocated as they do not conform to SC order.
Around 402 of the 526 liquor shops in the state are to be relocated following SC order. Of these around 176 were located on 64 state highways but as per excise officials only 35 shops could be reopened even after denotification of roads and converting them into Other District Roads (ODRs) as others are not conforming fully to SC order.
“We expected to save more than ₹600 crore by reopening 176 liquor vends following the government’s decision to denotify the state highways. However only 35 of them could be reopened in present circumstances and only ₹150 crore could be protected. Some other measures have to be taken to bring liquor trade back to normal,” said state excise commissioner Yugal Kishore Pant.
Meanwhile, as per the sources in the department, the state government is still clueless as to how to re-open 247 liquor shops located along national highways. These shops are yet to get alternate sites for relocation. Government sources said it was very difficult to find suitable locations for the liquor vends in the hilly terrain.
“There is no other way but to file a fresh petition in the SC to protect our revenue interest. Continuous agitation by women (against relocating the liquor vends) in different parts of the state has worsened the situation,” said a senior official requesting anonymity.
Asked if government was mulling legal recourse, state excise minister Prakash Pant said, “Options are open since Uttarakhand government was not a party in the SC order that directs shifting of liquor shops form national and state highways.”
Incidentally, while denotifying the state highways, the government had taken the ruse that “highway specifications” were coming in the way of their maintenance and expansion.
“Highway specifications are posing practical problems in the maintenance, development and expansion of state highways. Hence those falling in the area of local civic bodies will be denotified as state highways and classified as other district roads,” it had said in an official release. The decision was taken in a cabinet meeting presided by chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat.
There are 64 state highways in Uttarakhand out of which 63 are located in local civic body areas.