Chandigarh: With the apex court banning the sale of liquor within 500 metres of highways, the affected hotel, bar and restaurant owners in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh are pinning hopes on the respective state governments to save their trade.
The owners have alleged that the order would result in massive unemployment and financial loss to the state exchequer. They, however, ruled out approaching the court to seek a remedy in the issue.
"Around 25,000 people will be jobless in Haryana alone because of the ban on serving liquor (within 500 metres of highways)," Hotel and Restaurant Association of Haryana (HRAH), President, Manbeer Chaudhary said today.
"The tourism sector in the state will be most affected. Besides, the state revenue will also be badly hit," he said.
Terming the matter as a "mammoth problem", Chaudhary said that the respective state governments should pitch in and save their livelihoods.
"We have decided that we will not approach the judiciary for any legal remedy," he said, adding that it is the government which has many options to bring relief to the traders.
The HRAH representatives also met Haryana Excise and Taxation Minister Captain Abhimanyu and apprised him of the situation. "The minister was very positive and asked us to give a representation in this regard, which we have already done," Chaudhary said.
"In our representation, we have told the government to take a stand in the apex court as excise is a state matter, and states should have been consulted before passing any judgement," he said.
The HRAH chief further said that there were several cities in Haryana having bypass, and that there was no meaning of state highways.
He said that the immediate fallout of the ban has come in the form of cancellation of rooms by tour operators, causing massive loss to the hotel industry. "Out of 478 bars in Haryana, 194 bars will be affected by the Supreme Court order and most of them are situated in Gurugram," he said.
In Punjab, the representatives of Punjab Hotels Association termed the ban as "great setback" for the hospitality sector and urged the Congress-led state government to change the nomenclature of highways.
"We have requested the government to change the nomenclature of state highways to district roads. It will bring relief to at least 60 per cent of the affected hotels, bars and restaurants," said Punjab Hotels Association President, Satish Arora.
"We have also urged the Punjab government to file a review petition in the Supreme Court against this order," he said.
The association said that the affected hotels, restaurants and bars should have been given at least two years time to dislocate.
Meanwhile, in joint capital Chandigarh, a large number of representatives of affected hotels, bars and restaurants along with their staff today took out a rally against the order.
"Banning liquor on highways is no solution. Drunkards can still travel on the highways after having drinks at bars located far from the highways. Then, what purpose will this ban serve?" Vinod Dua, owner of Peddlers -bar and restaurant, asked.
"We have given a representation to Chandigarh Administrator V P Singh Badnore, demanding that the highway on sector 25, 35, 43 and the industrial area be declared district roads," he said.
Notably, the UT administration had denotified V1, V2 and V3 roads to save the liquor vends there from closure due to the ban.
The Supreme Court has in a recent order said that liquor vends within 500 metres of national and state highways will have to shut down from April 1....