Nirmala to discuss highway liquor ban issue with colleagues

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Nirmala to discuss highway liquor ban issue with colleagues

New Delhi, Apr 3 (PTI) Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today said she will discuss with ministerial colleagues the Supreme Court ruling of banning liquor shops along highways, which has sparked concerns in the hospitality sector.

“I know the tourism minister has expressed lot of concern about what impact this is going to have on tourism. I need to talk with some of the ministerial colleagues and see what is coming out of it,” Sitharaman told reporters here.

Earlier in the day, Union Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma said that his ministry will seek legal suggestions to explore a “middle path” to solve problems being faced by hoteliers and restaurant owners following the apex court’s order.

Sharma, however, said the government will work within the framework of the directives of the Supreme Court on the matter.

The Supreme Court on March 31 had modified its order reducing the distance to 220 metres in areas having a population of up to 20,000. This criterion is also applicable to hill states like Sikkim, Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh.

Thousands of restaurants, liquor vends and bars, including those in five-star hotels along national and state highways have been stopped from serving alcohol since Saturday.

When asked about the controversy over a remark made by a BJP leader in Kerala about beef, Sitharaman said she has “no idea” about the matter but noted that beef exports are not permitted from India.

She said that buffalo meat is allowed, only through authorised abattoirs having a valid license.

“What is happening in Uttar Pradesh…licenced abattoirs are not being touched. Without licence, export cannot happen and action was taken only on illegal abattoirs,” she added.

When asked about the proposed rubber policy, she expressed hope to announce it soon.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.