Supreme Court ruling: No bars 500 metres from National and State Highways
In December last year, the Supreme Court passed a ruling that liquor-selling bars and restaurants and liquor vendors located within 500 meters of National Highways and State highways across the country will have to shut down. Cancelling their licences owing to a rise in drunken driving-related incidents. Thus ensuring that all national and state highways are alcohol-free.
Having alcohol easily available near highways poses a hazard to drivers and riders who use it as an energy source for long distance travel. This is especially common among truckers. Besides, tourist revellers, in the holiday mood, have no qualms about drinking and driving.
Goa has NH17 and NH 4A besides the long state highway which crisscrosses through every village. Around 3000 bars and restaurants in Goa lie prominently located on these highways.
In Goa, several 1000s of liquor outlets are worried as to the outcome of this order as they face closure. The State Government has started the process of implementation of the Supreme Court’s judgement cancelling their licences.
Sate Excise Department decided to cancel the licences of all these outlets on a non-renewable basis. This means they that they will not be able to sell liquor. If they intend to relocate 500 metres away from the highway, then they will have to reapply to the excise department for a new licence as reported in ToI.
Effects on tourism
Goa is a tourist destination. Most of the tourists throng Goa for cheap, Excise-free liquor. Many even transport it illegally across into neighbouring states. Recently, it seems, Goa experienced a boom in the alcohol industry that saw many alcohol selling shops mushrooming across the state.
The effects of cancellation of so many licences will be felt far and wide.
We can weigh some pros and cons arising from this closure of accessible liquor outlets:
- Alcohol, a cause of ruin for many households; the reduction of alcohol selling outlets will be a harbinger of hope to many families. Many tiny bars are situated on major street corners easily accessible to villagers.
- Closure of these alcohol selling outlets will also result in a reduction in the availability of cheap, unhealthy, country liquor that is brewed in unhygienic conditions and readily available to the poor.
- With alcohol selling licences revoked, owners of small bar-businesses to suffer due to loss of income.
- Many small outlets sell pure ‘cashew feni’ and ‘urak’, a local alcohol, usually brewed at home. Closure of these will result in a scarcity of the famous, much sought after home-made goan brew.
- Besides, this ban may impact the influx of tourists who mainly visit Goa to consume and purchase cheap alcohol.
With liquor licences cancelled, will alcohol consumption reduce? Will accidents on highways reduce drastically?