Only Food No Liquor! Many Bars and Pubs in City Close due to SC Order
Only Food No Liquor! Many Bars and Pubs in City Close due to Supreme Court Order, that No Liquor should be served within 500 meter distance from State/National Highway. Some bars have stopped selling selling, but only food. The Bar word has been blocked with a tape or newspaper? But how far this rule will be strictly enforced is something to be talked about- every time a new rule is implemented, the public servants will be making some extra bucks. Regarding this liquor ban case by SC- it’s indeed a good chance for the officials of Excise Department and also the police to earn some extra mullah, in the form of bribe from all these liquor establishments who still prefer to run their liquor business illegally. Oh well-that’s India! Also that’s Kudla!
Mangaluru: The Supreme Court’s order banning the sale of alcohol along all National and State Highways has led to the closure of around 316 liquor shops situated within a 500-metre distance from highways in the Dakshina Kannada district. As per the statistics, there are 196 liquor establishments in Mangaluru, 33 in Bantwal, 42 in Puttur, 21 in Sullia, and 24 in Belthangady. According to Excise dept, on NH 75 (Mangaluru-Bengaluru) there are 81 bars and liquor shops (starting from Padil, Mangaluru till Sakleshpur); on NH 66 (Talapady-Mangaluru till Karwar) there are 72 liquor establishments; on NH 169 (Mani-DK till Mysuru via Madikeri) there are 55 liquor establishments.
Though there were regulations applicable in Karnataka to sell liquor, outside a distance of 220 meters from the national or state highways, with certain exceptions, the apex court’s order has removed them giving no scope for exceptions and also increased the distance to 500 meters. The department rule also states that that the towns with population of 20,000 and above cannot be considered a highway. Several towns that have sprung up near the highways like Bantwal Cross Road, Uppinangady, Sakleshpur, Sullia, Madikeri, Somawarpet etc cannot be considered as part of the highways, but highways pass through these towns, with bunch of liquor establishments all along. Kind of very confusing to deal with the latest SC’s recent order! In the meantime , the Liquor Association members in DK who had approached the Supreme Court with a review petition proved no success, and so unfortunately the bars and other establishments that serve liquor need to be closed.
The Supreme Court’s order to ban all liquor shops within 500 metres of national and state highways across the country, is a move aimed at reducing drink driving and road accidents that claim thousands of lives every year- it has also issued orders that licences of existing shops should not be renewed after March 31, 2017, it said. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur ordered the removal of all signboards of alcohol vends along highways. The bench had also made it clear that such an order was necessary for the safety and security of highway commuters who get tempted to down a few drinks after seeing liquor shops.
SC also expressed serious concern over 150,000 fatalities every year in road accidents, a majority of them attributed to drinking driving. The order came on petitions challenging high court verdicts that disallowed sale of liquor on highways. The courts had said liquor shops should be located away from highways so that they were neither visible nor accessible to travelers. The top court came down heavily on states for not paying heed to the Centre’s advice not to give licence to shops selling alcohol along highways.
It is learnt that after Bengaluru, the Highways of Coastal areas namely NH 75, NH 66, and NH 169 have the highest number of liquor shops, and this order by SC has put them in a quandary. A board member of DK Wine Merchant’s Association speaking to Team Mangalorean said, ” This order by SC has put all the liquor establishment owners into big problems. Liquor business is a very competitive and a cost-intensive one. There are different classifications of licences, where the Highway side licences are low priced, and now if the owners want to move 500 mts away from the Highway, they’ll have to pay a huge price for the new licence. In many places on all three Highways and various state highways, the conditions are not conductive for shifting these liquor outlets”.
Yet another bar and restaurant owner located at a busy intersection on NH 75 said, ” Just foolish on the part of SC to come up with such an law. If the SC has made the rule, then there should be a strong reason for it. I am ready to shift my bar licence to a different location within the given time, but I will convert my present establishment into a family restaurant. But funny thing is that toddy shops even if they are close to the highway are exempted from this rule since they don’t feature under Excise Dept. Similarly those outlets selling homemade wines are also not affected.”
Over 90% of the licence renewals for liquor selling business ended on June 30, which means it is the end of the road for the liquor stores and bars located on Highways. Some owners have not come forward to renew their licences, instead opted for new businesses. A few bar and restaurants, have even deleted the word “Bar’ on their sign boards or covered it with a tape or paper. No doubt this new rule by Supreme Court has come as a massive jolt to liquor dealers, and handling this situation has been a headache for them. Oh well! Not much to “Cheer” about. But anyways, “Cheers” to the good old times at these favorite watering holes that we all had a revelry time before they closed for good, as per SC order!