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Sunday, 16 July, 2017, 10 : 00 AM [IST]

States may get to end dry days on NHs passing via cities

As per a report in The Economic Times, the Centre is likely to allow states to take over stretches of national highways passing through cities that are denotified to get around a ban on liquor sales along such roads. However, such states will lose funds provided by the Central government to maintain them. The Supreme Court clarified that the sale of liquor within 500 metres of state or national highways won’t fall foul of the law if such routes are within city limits and denotified. The clarification will allow restaurants and pubs along denotified sections of national highways passing through cities to serve alcohol. However, states will lose out on the central assistance they received to maintain these roads and will have to spend out of their own pockets.

“In case the states approach us, we’ll act on the proposal after taking legal opinion. In the past, we’ve handed over several stretches to state public works departments. In Delhi, three main stretches on Ring Road were transferred to PWD a few years ago,” a top road ministry official said. The official said the ministry won’t denotify highways on its own to facilitate the sale of alcohol on national highways because it had supported the ban in court. “It’s the prerogative of the states to do whatever they deem fit,” the official added. The hospitality and tourism industry in cities such as Bengaluru, Chennai and Nagpur, which have major national highways passing through them, were most affected by the ban imposed by the Supreme Court, which came into effect on April 1. The court’s clarification will permit affected sectors, including tourism, to move state governments and Union Territories to denotify highways that pass through cities. Chandigarh, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh are among those that have already denotified several state highways.

“If it is within city, you can touch it. If it is not, you cannot. As long as it remains a national highway, it will be covered by our judgement. If it ceases to be a highway, it won’t,” a three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar said. The court’s order came on an appeal against a Chandigarh administration decision to denotify certain highways to allow liquor sales within 500 metres of them. The move was challenged by an NGO that had originally sought a ban on liquor sales along highways to curb road fatalities.

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