Goa liquor traders demand denotification of highways

Panaji, Feb 15 (IANS) A newly-formed forum of liquor vendors in Goa on Wednesday demanded denotification of state and national highways in the state, in order to insulate liquor outlets along the major roads from the Supreme Court order which bans vends located within 500 metres of notified highways.

Addressing a press conference in Panaji, Convenor of the Goa Highway Affected Liquor Vendors Association Gaurish Dhond said the Association would file a review petition in the apex court, seeking relaxation of the ban.

“The state government should denotify these highways. In many cases, the highways were built much after the licensed liquor stores were set up. The stores have been in existence for generations. Businesses like these cannot be uprooted like this,” Dhond told reporters.

The association — which claims to represent a large number of liquor industry stakeholders, including members of the Bar Owners Association of Goa, Goa Liquor Traders Association, and the like — will also file a review petition with the apex court, Dhond said.

“The review petition will be filed by our association,” Dhond said, adding that the state administration in states like Goa, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Manipur, where election processes are on and the Model Code of Conduct is in place, were not in a position to take policy decisions on the ban issue, until a new elected government is in place.

“The election code of conduct is in place. None of the poll-bound state governments are taking cognisance of the order because of the code,” Dhond said.

There are around 11,000 excise licence holders in the state, authorised to sell liquor — almost a third of them are expected to come under the ambit of the apex court order.

Officials of the state excise department have already started an exercise to identify liquor outlets which fall within 500 metres of the state’s highways. The ban is expected to be enforced from April 1.

–IANS

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