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SC-mandated clampdown on liquor vends along highways evokes divergent reactions

The clampdown continued across major cities while long queues of tipplers were visible outside vends still selling liquor.

SC-mandated clampdown on liquor vends along highways evokes divergent reactions
The drive to close down liquor outlets along highways continued on Monday across the country evoking divergent views, even as restaurant and hotel owners who are staring at losses looked towards state governments for support.

The clampdown continued across major cities while long queues of tipplers were visible outside vends still selling liquor.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar supported the Supreme Court order barring the sale of liquor within 500 metres of national and state highways, found appreciation but added that such "piecemeal attempts" would,not serve much purpose and sought a total ban on alcohol in the country.

Speaking to reporters, Nitish, who has banned alcohol in Bihar said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should implement it as a tribute to Mahatama Gandhi.

BJP MP Kirron Kher differed as she questioned the logic of not allowing liquor sale in five star hotels. It is a question of "more than a million jobs", she said pointing out that the hotel industry is a major job generator.

Kher's party colleague and MLA from Indore Sudarshan Gupta however demanded the Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan a complete ban on liquor in Madhya Pradesh.

In Delhi, several bar and restaurant owners contested the the 500 metres distance as measured by the excise department and made representations. Their claims are being verified. Over 100 liquor bars and outlets have been told not to serve liquor in the capital, most of them located on the National Highway 8 stretch between Airport and Mahipalpur.

Exploring 'middle path' over liquor sale along NHs: Mahesh Sharma

The tourism 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 banning liquor sale along highways.

Union Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma, however, said the government will work within the framework of the directives of the Supreme Court in the matter. He said this on Monday after a delegation of hoteliers and restaurant owners met him here on the issue of the Supreme Court's order that liquor vends within 500 metres of national and state highways will have to be shut down from April 1.

This order is also applicable to bars, pubs and restaurants serving liquor, which give rise to drunken driving and consequential fatalities. "We respect the Supreme Court order. We will take suggestions from legal experts to see whether there can be a middle path," Sharma said.

He, however, said the matter is a state subject and any decision regarding it will be taken by the states. "We will refer the problems being faced by the hoteliers and restaurant owners, due to the ban, to the states and it is for them to take necessary actions," he said.
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