Andhra Pradesh fails to keep tab on highway liquor outlets

Liquor traders dead against relocation of their outlets.

Rajahmundry: The AP government seems to be helpless in regulating the liquor retail outlets located along both the national and state highways. This is a cause for concern as an increasing number of road accidents are due to drunken driving. Out of over 4,200 liquor retail outlets existing in the state, more than 50 per cent are located along the highways.

Though the Supreme Court has appointed an Empowered Committee to study the possibility of removing those located within 100 metres of highways, it is yet to submit its report.

Liquor traders put up a stiff resistance when the Empowered Committee asked the state governments to serve them notices, obtaining a stay order from the HC against their removal from their locations in close proximity to highways.

Earlier, when only two-lane highways existed, road accidents were usually head-on collisions. But now, with these having been converted to four- and six-lane highways, more accidents are caused by a speeding vehicle ramming into a parked vehicle from the rear.

Though the AP Excise Rules 2012 specify that no liquor retail outlet will be permitted to be established 50 metres from both the National and State Highways, the rule does not apply if there are villages located on either side of them. This exemption has had terrible consequences as drivers of trucks, buses and personal vehicles invariably stop when they spot a liquor outlet.

Passengers who use these luxury buses have repeatedly complained about drivers driving under the influence of liquor and appealed for the rule to be amended, but the state government may not be able to impose any regulation on these ‘exempted’ liquor outlets as it has given licences to the traders for a two-year period — from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2017.

East Godavari excise deputy commissioner Satyanarayana said, “If the state government issues any order not to allow liquor outlets within 50 m from the highways, we will implement it as the safety of the public is most important.”

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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