Just as the Supreme Court turned down the plea to modify December 2016 order banning liquor outlets within 500 metres of state and national highways from April 1, Kerala has issued orders easing the boundary norms for the liquor outlets within its purview.
Just as the Supreme Court turned down the plea to modify December 2016 order banning liquor outlets within 500 metres of state and national highways from April 1, Kerala has issued orders easing the boundary norms for the liquor outlets within its purview. Although states, including Kerala, Punjab and Telangana, had sought modification of the earlier verdict, the SC had observed on Wednesday that “life is more important than liquor”.
To circumvent the relocation issues before the April 1 deadline, Kerala allowed shifting the liquor vends to anywhere within the same taluk, as different from certain distance limits set earlier. Kerala has apparently taken a cue from Punjab and Rajasthan in tackling the relocation problem. While Kerala had revised its own distance norms, Punjab and Rajasthan had gone for re-baptism of roads. It was Chandigarh that first declared its city roads as urban roads, so that the state highway is not called so anymore. Rajasthan, which eyes R7,300 crore in excise revenue in the current fiscal, had followed suit, declaring state highways passing through habitated areas as urban roads or district roads.
State-run Bevco (Kerala State Beverages) is the monopoly distribution agency for liquor in Kerala and in the last fiscal, garnered revenues to the tune of R10,500 crore in the last fiscal, through liquor sales. “Only 31 out of 179 liquor outlets have been relocated so far in Kerala,” a senior Bevco official told FE. There were also skirmishes with local people, when Bevco tried moving its outlets to residential areas.
Kerala had sought AG Mukul Rohatgi’s advice on whether bars would affected. Rohatgi had told the state that the ban applied only to liquor outlets and not to restaurants and bars serving liquor.