Bhubaneswar, Jan 9: From April 2017, all liquor shops established within 500 meters from the National Highways and State Highways will be shifted as per the decision taken by the Odisha government. This was decided at a high level review meeting presided over by Chief Secretary, Aditya Prasad Padhi at the State Secretariat here. Acting on the directive of the SC, all liquor shops are to be shifted beyond 500 meters from all National Highways and State Highways in Odisha. Discussions on the implementation of the apex court’s order and identification of liquor shops were held during the meeting. It has been decided that the shifting would be done only after the norms to calculate 500 meters from the National Highways and State Highways are fixed.
Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Excise, Bishnupada Sethi said that not only liquor shops but also other shops and hotels which have come up within 500 meters from the National Highways and State Highways will either be closed or shifted. He pointed out that as of now, there are around 3900 liquor shops along the National Highways and State Highways in Odisha out of which more than 1700 have come up within the identified zones. According to the estimate, the Excise revenue would incur a loss of Rs 1100 crore per annum if these liquor shops get shifted from the identified zones.
To this decision of the state government, Excise minister Damodar Rout on Sunday stirred up a hornet’s nest by asking as to how to stop sale of liquor at the roadside dhaabaas and hotels. This question of Rout has given goosebumps as to how the police administration and the Excise officials have a hand in the illegal sale of alcohol in these food joints (roadside hotels and dhaabaas). Rout further questioned that mostly all liquor shops near the highways of both national and state are closed by 8 or 9pm but what about the dhaabaas which go on selling alcohol throughout the night, have they taken license from the government to sell liquor? In order to stop such illegal activities, the police and Excise officials must be approached. Since it is clear from the statement of the minister that the activities are running under the nose of government officials, it too showed the government’s helplessness to stop liquor sale at these unauthorized points.