GUWAHATI, Feb 22 - The State Excise department has issued notices to all liquor shops and bars within the radius of 500 metres from National and State Highways to shift by March 31.
The department has prepared a list of all such outlets which fall within 500 metres of State or National Highways. There are 1,266 IMFL OFF shops (wine shops) and of them, 598 are within 500 metres of either National or State Highway. Altogether 380 of the 769 IMFL ON shops (bars) in the State fall in this category.
In Guwahati and Kamrup area alone, there are 82 such outlets, of which 63 are wine shops and 18 bars. Names of star category hotels are also in the list.
�The notices have been issued in line with the Supreme Court order dated December 15. The shops have been directed to shift, or their licenses will not be renewed,� sources in the State Excise department told The Assam Tribune.
�The Superintendents of Excise in every district have been directed to implement the apex court order,� he said.
In fact no new licenses have been issued by the Excise department ever since the Supreme Court order.
The apex court had on December 15 banned all liquor shops within 500 metres of national and state highways across the country, a move aimed at reducing drunk driving and road accidents that claim thousands of lives every year.
The top court�s order was on a public interest litigation filed by an NGO called �Arrive Safe�. According to �Arrive Safe�, 1.42 lakh people die annually in road accidents, many of which are caused by drunk driving.
The court even stressed that there would be no advertisements of any liquor shop visible from the National or State Highways.
Meanwhile, the All Assam IMFL Retailers Association had filed a plea for modification of the order citing the peculiar demography of the State.
Petitioner and general secretary of the association Alak Dutta said the definition of state highway was so wide that the enforcement of the December 15 Supreme Court order would adversely affect liquor trade in the State.
�According to the Assam Highways Act, 1989, all roads in the State fall in the highway category. There will be no place to shift the shops. We have appealed to fix a reasonable distance for location of the shops,� he said.
Two hearings have been already conducted. The petitioners are awaiting the apex court ruling on the plea.