Liquor outlets staring at possible shutdown

Karnataka yet to hear from Centre on denotification of NH stretches

With less than 48 hours remaining before the Supreme Court’s order prohibiting sale of liquor within 500 m of national highways (NHs) coming into force in the State, owners of liquor establishments, who will be affected, are staring at a possible shutdown of their businesses.

The State is yet to hear from the Union Ministry of Road Transport over denotification of stretches of NH passing through municipal areas. About 700 establishments, including those in prime party areas in the capital, could possibly close down post June 30.

While the government is trying to get more than 700 km of NH across the State, including about 95 km in Bengaluru, denotified as “municipal authority roads”, nothing much has moved so far, government sources said.

An anticipated meeting between the Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Union Transport Minister Nitish Gadkari also did not take place on Wednesday. Sources said that a senior official from the State is likely to meet senior officials at Ministry of Road Transport in New Delhi on Thursday to discuss the issue.

A last ditch effort by the Federation of Wine Merchants Association Karnataka, seeking three months extension for relocation is also being looked into though there has been no official commitment. The federation has also suggested to the government to bring an amendment to Karnataka Excise Act on the lines of amendment brought to Punjab Excise Act recently, which has helped save many liqour establishments. “The Chief Minister has promised to explore the possibility if it is legally tenable,” federation General Secretary B. Govindraj Hegde said, adding that they did not receive any firm commitment from the CM.

“With huge resources required to shift the premises that are affected by the Supreme Court order, owners of most wine stores, bars and restaurants are gearing up mentally to shut their businesses for a few weeks or months,” said Mr. Hegde, adding that it was also a reason why not many applications have been moved for relocation.

Incidentally, about 3,600 establishments have to be relocated across the State, and just about 37 establishments have sought relocation licenses as on Tuesday. About 1,300 establishments are expecting a favourable decision by the MORT if the 700 kms stretches of national highways are denotified, he added.

Meanwhile, officials in Public Works Department also said that they were not sure if the Union Government would move swiftly since many states have also made similar proposals. “Unless there is a consensus nationally, the denotification procedure may take time,” an official said. “We are not sure if the ministry would seek compensation for the roads that it has to denotifiy since they had developed the road. Technically a national highway is the property of the union government,” official added.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 9:10:16 PM |

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