Ban on liquor along highways: Sale of booze continues surreptitiously along Delhi-Panipat route

A visit by India Today to spots along the Delhi-Panipat route showed that while several liquor vends are shut to comply with the Supreme Court's order barring alcohol sales along highways, others continued with their operations.

A day after Supreme Court deadline to wind up business for liquor vends on highways ended, the booze sale is continuing surreptitiously, a visit by India Today to locations between Delhi and Panipat reveals. Most of the vendors were located close to popular dhabas along the national highway.

The first stop was Kundli on the Delhi-Haryana border, where a liquor vend with half its shutter down was found operating. Customers were easily able to peek into the store.

The second stop was stop was in Sonepat's Murthal, a popular pit stop among those driving along the national highway. AT Murthal, a liquor vend was seen operating even though it was barely 50 meters away from the highway. The Supreme Court order allows liquor sale only beyond 500 meters from the highway. In case of areas with a population of less than 20,000 people, vends are permitted to operate beyond 200 meters from the highway.

The team then stopped at Samalkha near Panipat, where again a liquor shop was operating barely 100 meters from the highway, right next to a popular dhaba. The India Today team also found that some liquor vends have indeed shifted from the highways to locations within permissible limits.

Interestingly, it is not difficult to find liquor vends as the dhaba owners, confectionery shops were well aware of the new outlets within easy reach from the highways and were very forthcoming in guiding commuters to them.

'STATE GOVERNMENTS LACK WILL TO IMPLEMENT SUPREME COURT'S ORDERS'

Harman Sidhu, who runs the NGO ArriveSafe, alleges that state governments lack the will to implement Supreme Court orders. In many cases, he further sayss, the excise licenses issued to liquor vends do not mention the addresses of the shop/

Sidhu further said that ever since the matter came up in the Supreme Court, states have tried to find new ways to evade compliance. Punjab and Haryana have pleaded that the liquor vends should allowed to be present on state highways to compensate for the revenue losses incurred once vends on national highways are shut down. Chandigarh and Rajasthan, on the other hand, have denotified their state highways while Goa and West Bengal gave licenses to bars to double up as liquor vends, he says. This despite the fact that the data available with the Union Transport Ministry shows that drivers' fault is the chief factor behind road accidents, killings and injuries on all roads in the country. Drivers' fault emerged as the main cause behind 77.1 per cent of the total road accidents during 2015 as against 78.8 per cent during 2014.

Of the mishaps falling under the drivers' fault category, over speeding accounted for 62.2 per cent of all accidents (3,86,481) and 61 per cent of all deaths (1,06,021 deaths). Furthermore, accidents and deaths caused due to 'intake of alcohol/drugs' within the drivers' fault category accounted for 4.2 per cent(16,298 out of 3,86,481) accidents and 6.4 per cent (6,755 out of 1,06,021) deaths.

Over all, intake of alcohol/drugs was responsible of 3.3 per cent of all accidents (16,298 out of 5,01,423) and 4.6 per cent of all deaths (6,755 out of 1,46,133 deaths).

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