Chandigarh stares at total liquor ban from April 1

Each liquor shop in the city — whether in a five-star hotel, a restaurant or a vend — is staring at closure from April 1, when the December judgment of the Supreme Court on closure of liquor shops on state highways and national highways takes effect.
A liquor shop in Sector 17.(HT Representative Image)
A liquor shop in Sector 17.(HT Representative Image)
Updated on Feb 27, 2017 07:24 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By, Chandigarh

Each liquor shop in the city — whether in a five-star hotel, a restaurant or a vend — is staring at closure from April 1, when the December judgment of the Supreme Court on closure of liquor shops on state highways and national highways takes effect.

The reason. On record, all major roads in the city are state highways and fall within the ambit of the judgment.

The road categorisation was done around 20 years so that the UT administration could maintain these roads, with the municipal corporation short of funds at the time.

As of today then, apart from the one national highway that passes through the city, all major roads are state highways.

WHY EACH CITY ROAD IS A STATE HIGHWAY
On record, all major roads in the city are state highways. The road categorisation was done around 20 years so that the UT administration could maintain these roads, with the MC short of funds at the time.
THE SC JUDGMENT
In December, the SC banned states and union territories from granting licences for the sale of liquor within 500 meters along national and state highways. It had noted that drunk driving was the main reason behind a large percentage of road accidents in the country.
GURUGRAM ALSO HIT
Cities like Gurugram are staring at a situation where many hotels may not be able to sell liquor starting April 1, due to the property’s location; The city faces a far more complex issue due to its design.

“It was decided to declare all major roads as state highways so that their maintenance could be done by UT’s engineering department, instead of the MC,” an official said.

Over time, the maintenance passed on to the MC, but the roads are still, officially, state highways.

Now, the UT administration has set up a four-member committee to suggest definite solutions, within a week, to wriggle out of the unprecedented situation.

“In Chandigarh, Sectors are 1.2 km long and 0.8 km wide. With all vertical roads being state highways, 500 metres on either side of the road covers the whole of the city. Thus, all sectors come within 500 metres of state highways,” said home secretary Anurag Aggarwal, who is holding the charge of excise and taxation. “If nothing is done, the city entire will not have any liquor vend or bar in any hotel or restaurant. All of them will have to close down,” he added.

WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?

Agarwal says at this moment he can’t say what the solution to this predicament is. “We hope that the committee brings a solution. We will take a call after that,” he said.

The panel comprising UT chief engineer, MC chief engineer, chief architect and additional excise and taxation commissioner will give its report within a week.

PANIC AMONG HOTELIERS

The city bar and restaurant owners are in a state of panic and are taking up the issue with different authorities. “We are staring at a crisis,” says Vipul Dua, owner of a prominent bar and restaurant here. “We are hoping that the administration is able to find out some solution. We are also awaiting February 28, the next date of hearing in the Supreme Court.”

Read | Here’s the last year’s liquor policy

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