Rudra Prayag, Chamoli, and Uttarkashi - the three districts are known as 'Char-Dham' area (The four pilgrimage).
Supreme Court on Friday put a stay on Uttarakhand High Court ruling which had put a complete ban on liquor consumption in districts of Rudra Prayag, Chamoli, and Uttarkashi. The three districts are known as ‘Char-Dham’ area (The four pilgrimage) in the hill state. The SC overturned Uttarakhand High Court’s order to impose a complete prohibition on the possession, distribution, collection, sale, purchase or consumption of alcohol/liquor including beer and intoxicants in Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi districts. The HC order was taken with the aim to ‘raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living in the society.’ Opposing the decision, Uttrakhand government moved to Supreme Court seeking removal of the ban, as negatively affecting the revenue of the state. Along with these three cities, the HC had also ordered a similar ban on liquor in 5 KM diameter of Gurudwara Nanakmatta, Reetha Saheb, Hemkund to protect the piousness of these religious places.
In another liquor-related issue, Supreme Court ruled that ban on areas near National Highways where the population is less than 20,000 distance will be around 220 metres. The religiously important Kedarnath and Badrinath shrines are located in Rudraprayag and Chamoli districts respectively whereas Gangotri and Yamunotri temple are situated in Uttarkashi district. The high court, in its ruling, observed that a complete ban was required in these districts considering the growing tendency to consume liquor among the youngsters. The court had also asked the state government to impose a prohibition on public drinking and take steps to check “large drunken gatherings”.
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Along with three districts, the HC also banned liquor shops from the next financial year within one-kilometre radius of an educational institution or a religious place. The court had directed the state government to put a ban on the sale of tobacco within a radius of five kilometres from Gurdwara Nanakmatta, Gurdwara Meetha Reetha Sahib and Gurdwara Hemkund Sahib.
(With agency inputs.)