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Ban on liquor shops near highways to hurt food and beverage business


NEW DELHI: The recent Supreme Court order to ban liquor shops operating within 500 meters of highways has shocked the food and beverage (F&B) makers. They feel that the move will only hurt their business as a blanket ban will do little to discourage offenders.

“While we welcome the intent, a blanket ban may be inappropriate. It will affect the livelihood and business of people who have made investments across these stretches.

Also, the highways cut across cities. So it will affect business in cities. By this logic, any bar next to a roadside should be banned. We are waiting for the final order before we can act on it,” said Riyaz Amlani, president, National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI).

In its December 15 order, the Supreme Court stated there will be no liquor shops on national or state highways from April 1and existing licences of liquor shops won’t be renewed after April 1. The order, based on a public interest litigation filed by an NGO called Arrive Safe is aimed at ending drunk driving on highways, but industry experts feel the move will do little to deter offenders. “It’s done with a good intenion to try and make the highways more safer. But I don’t think it makes sense and will have the desired impact.

Somebody who wants to have drinks can buy them before starting their journey,” said Rishi Puri, VP, Lords Hotels and Resorts, and a member of Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India. “The move, if at all, will impact F&B revenue. Properties such Cyber hub in Gurgaon would suffer majorly. There are areas that are not necessarily catering to highway travellers yet fall within the vicinity. The sector, already reeling under the adverse impact of demonetisation, will take another hit,” Puri added.

However, some like Rahul Singh, founder and CEO of the Beer Cafe, welcomed the move. “I’m extremely happy with this order. India has the highest road accidents. There were more vends on highways. Alcoholic beverage sales will come down but its for a greater cause. We have 42 outlets and were always clear that we would never open on a highway. The state governments should not look at it from an excise revenue point of view,” he added.

Source: Economic Times

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