Supreme Court's highway liquor ban: This is how states are dodging it

The Uttar Pradesh government has taken a leaf out of the Chandigarh model to circumvent the Supreme Court order mandating the closure of establishments that sell liquor along national and state highways.

Hoteliers in Gurgaon conducted a meeting on Sunday to discuss their next step after the bar ban. Ankur Bhatia, executive director, Bird Group, appreciated the initiative taken by the Uttar Pradesh government and is hoping that both Haryana and Delhi governments take a similar way out after the ban.

The Uttar Pradesh government has taken a leaf out of the Chandigarh model to circumvent the Supreme Court order mandating the closure of establishments that sell liquor along national and state highways. It has rebranded many of its major state highways as district roads.

On the other hand, the Delhi excise department is planning more action, but is already flooded with representations from licence holders, who claim their outlets do not fall within the 500-metre limit laid down by the apex court.

Meanwhile, a reality check between Delhi and Panipat by Indiatoday revealed booze sale is continuing surreptitiously. Most vendors were located close to popular dhabas along the 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 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 metres away from the highway.

The team then stopped at Samalkha near Panipat, where again a liquor shop was operating barely 100 metres from the highway, right next to a popular dhaba. Interestingly, it's not difficult to find liquor vends as dhaba owners and confectionery shops were well aware of the new outlets within easy reach from highways, and were forthcoming in guiding commuters to them.