Telangana: Race to de-notify highways to save bars

Hyderabad: After securing six months relaxation from the Supreme Court on sale of liquor from outlets within 500 metres from national/ state highways, the Telangana government has initiated the process to de-notify national and state highways passing through cities and towns to save prominent hotels, bars and clubs from the ban on serving liquor from October 1. Hotels such as Hotel Marriott, Hotel Golconda, Hotel Ramada Manohar, ITC Kakatiya, Taj Vivanta, Secunderabad Club, Nizam Club, Country Club etc face the ban on serving liquor from October 1 this year as they fall within the 500-metre limit from highways.

The Roads and Buildings department has decided to write to the Centre seeking denotification of national highways passing through the city while it will de-notify state highways on its own by bringing in an amendment to the State Highways Act. Excise commissioner R.V. Chandravadan said, “We got relaxation only for six months till September-end. We cannot renew the licences of liquor shops, hotels, bars and clubs that fall within 500 metres of the highways from October 1. We have submitted a report to the government on the impact of the SC directions and the government will take a decision on what to do in the case of hotels, clubs and bars located in the core areas of city but fall within the 500-metres distance.”

When asked whether there was scope to de-notify highways in core areas of the city, he said, “This has been done by several states earlier. This is being examined by the R&B department.” These stretches, though officially National and State highways, have become part of the cities or towns over the years, while ring roads or bypass roads have been constructed to divert highway traffic from entering densely populated areas.

Earlier, vehicles using National or state highways had to pass through cities and towns on their journey, but over time, ring roads or bypass roads have been erected around almost all important cities and towns. What were once highways, these roads have now turned into city or town roads. Officials said, once de-notified, the SC orders on sale/ serving of liquor will not be binding on such roads, as they will be treated as local roads. There are 2,300 liquor shops and 900 bars in the state. At present, nearly 1,400 bars and liquor shops are located within 500 meters of National and State highways across the state, of which 160 are in the city limits.

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