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Maharashtra: 3,100 bars, liquor shops to reopen along highways



MUMBAI: Over 3,100 bars and liquor shops may reopen soon as the state has issued instructions to collectors about relaxing norms in rural areas along state and national highways. The establishments had been closed after a Supreme Court order banning liquor shops within 500 metres of highways. The revision will benefit gram panchayats especially on the Mumbai-Goa and the old Mumbai-Pune highway (beyond Panvel).

As per the new rules, liquor sale licenses can be issued to villages with a population of at least 3,000 or a shop located at least 3km away from a municipal corporation’s boundary or at least 1km away from a municipal council or nagar panchayat’s boundary. Licenses can be renewed by levying fees for two years (2017-18 and 2018-19 fiscals), stated the home department.

After the SC order, a few of the affected license holders approached the court and their plea was reconsidered. The court asked states to hear the affected parties and decide on action. After hearing those affected in Maharashtra, the state home department decided to relax conditions.

Liquor shop owners aren’t happy with the order as they expected a greater degree of relaxation. Anand Bakle, AHAR convenor for Marathwada, said the state government has interpreted the SC order the wrong way. “The SC never mentioned a population base for issuing licenses. The government should issue licenses without putting a village’s population as a condition. Also, it should not charge fees for the last two years as the shops and bars were out of business in the period.”

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