The Supreme Court's directive banned liquor shops, within 500 metres of state and national highways.

As Andhra implements SC directive over 2000 shops on highways affectedFile photo: PTI
news News Sunday, July 02, 2017 - 09:57

Andhra Pradesh witnessed its first day of implementation of the Supreme Court direction, that liquor shops and bars should not be situated within 500 metres of state and national highways, on Saturday.

Thousands of outlets had to reportedly down their shutters after the state’s new excise policy came into effect 

Speaking to The Hindu, Prohibition and Excise Director (Enforcement) K. Venkateswara Rao said that the order would affect around 2,000 liquor outlets and about 370 bars in the state, even as all their licenses expired on Friday night.

“The Supreme Court order will affect all shops and bars within 500 metres of highways. If any trader violates it, action will be taken against the licensees and also the officers concerned,” he told the newspaper.

However, the order has also irked several traders and merchants in the state.

Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, A. Krishna Reddy, a liquor merchant said, “If the shops are to be 500 meters away from highways, they are entering residential areas with which we are facing severe resistance from the residents to open the shops. There is also a rule that the shops shouldn’t be established near the schools or temples, but these days every lane has a school or a temple.”

Last week, the state issued a Government Order, as part of its new liquor policy, that made licenses valid for five years instead of one, setting the license fee at Rs 2 lakh, and the registration fee as high as Rs 28 lakh.

According to reports, the state government has to pay 18% of its license fee as GST to the Centre, which would result in a huge revenue loss.

To bypass this, reports suggested that the Andhra government reduced the license fee to Rs 2 lakh, while increasing the registration fee, to vary between Rs 8 lakh to Rs 28 lakh.

In April this year, the state said that its Prohibition and Excise department had achieved a growth rate of 5.88% in 2016-17, by earning Rs 4,644.45 crore.