The Odisha government said on Monday that implementing the Supreme Court order of shifting liquor shops to nearly 500 m away from national and state highways was “impossible”.
“It is impossible to move liquor shops 500 meter away from the highways. There are usually villages, temples, mutts located 500 m away from the highways. People will object to liquor shops there. How can one open liquor shops? These sorts of issues will come up in large numbers,” Excise Minister Damodar Rout said.
Rout, who had earlier said that total prohibition was an “impractical” idea, said, “It may so happen that most liquor shops won’t apply for licenses under such a condition,” he said.
Meanwhile, Odisha Liquor Sellers’ Association decided to convene a meeting of its managing body to discuss the subject. “We will call a managing body meeting over this issue,” secretary of the association Prabhat Das said. Excise officials said the state’s excise revenue collection would be “severely hit” if liquor shops are shifted 500 m away from the highways.
While the excise collection in 2015-16 was Rs 2,568 crore, the state government expected an additional Rs 800 crore in the ongoing fiscal. Besides, demonetisation has already made a visible impact on liquor sales across the state, they said.
Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha has said it will be difficult to shift the liquor shops. There are above 500 such liquor shops across the state located within 500 m from the highways, official sources said.