AP: Liquor syndicate seeking ways to skirt highway law

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Replacing bars, restaurants is a must after March 31, 2017 and they will not be allowed on the highways from April 1 as per the SC ruling.

Khammam: How to evade the Supreme Court ruling of not allowing liquor shops on state and national highways, is the key question in the minds of liquor shop owners and the officials in the excise department. Various options including changing the state highway laws are being considered to solve the problem. There are 148 liquor shops and 44 bars and restaurants in Khammam and Bhadradri-Kothagudem districts.

Interestingly, 112 shops and 20 bars and restaurants are located on the state highways in the two districts. Replacing the bars and restaurants is must after March 31, 2017 and they will not be allowed on the highways from April 1 as per the Supreme Court ruling.

The licence of existing shops will not be renewed. Liquor shops must be at least 500 metres away from state and National Highways. The Apex Court has also ordered that liquor banners and ads be removed from these spots. The orders have to be implemented by the Chief Secretary and police chiefs of states. While hearing a number of petitions, the top court had indicated in previous hearings that it would order the closure of all liquor shops on highways for the safety and security of commuters.

The SC ruling is not only a headache for the owners of liquor shops, but also the government, which has to find a way out for persons, who paid crores of rupees as licence fees. The liquor shop owners wanted the government to find out a remedy for it by saying that shifting from the existing shops had lots of problems.

P. Papa Rao, a liquor shop owner said, “All the present liquor shops have to be replaced in Khammam if the SC ruling is strictly followed,” The fate of bars and liquor shops in Kothagudem is also the same.

Efforts are being made to include main roads in the two towns as part of the Khammam Municipal Corporation and Kothagudem Municipality. The leaders of liquor syndicate allegedly approached the district minister and requested him to find a way. But, there is no response from him.

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