High Court had directed that they be shifted from alongside National Highways by March 31

Although Sunday was the deadline for the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) to shift all its liquor outlets along national highways, there seems to be little sign that the shops would have actually shifted by Monday morning.  

The Madras High Court, acting on a Public Interest Litigation, which sought the strict implementations of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, refused to grant extension of the March 31 deadline for shifting of all 504 shops along national highways in Tamil Nadu into locations in the interior. 

A circular from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, issued in December 2011, to the Chief Secretaries of all States and Union Territories, had instructed all State governments to take action for ‘removal of liquor shops along National Highways’ and that ‘no fresh licences may be issued to liquor vendors to open shops along National Highways’ and furthermore, ‘wherever licences have been given in the past to open liquor shops along national highways, such cases may be reviewed and corrective action taken under intimation to this Ministry.’ 

According to K. Balu, who filed the PIL, the location of government liquor outlets was contrary to this circular, which took into account, the number of fatal accidents taking place on national highways, especially those caused by drunken driving. A staff of the Kancheepuram District unit of TASMAC told The Hindu on Saturday evening that there were nearly 50 shops along NH 45 and NH 4 (Bengaluru Highway) and these would be shifted elsewhere by Monday morning. Police sources said a number of the outlets had planned to move into vacant premises along Pallavaram – Thoraipakkam Radial Road. 

Traffic police officials said that in St. Thomas Mount Police District alone, there were over a dozen shops on GST Road, concentrated in Pallavaram, Chromepet and Tambaram in addition to many more along State Highways such as Velachery Main Road and Mount – Poonamallee Road. The shifting of these liquor outlets based on the High Court’s order and the circular would go a long way in reducing problems, the officials added.

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