Bengaluru city has six national highways running through it and with the Centre keeping quiet on the state government’s plea to denotify these stretches, many restaurants including star hotels are on tenterhooks as they will lose their license. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court had ruled that no establishment can serve or sell liquor within 500 meters from state and national highways.
A report by the Times of India states that as many as 340 outlets including 14 star hotels in Bengaluru are set to lose their licenses as the Supreme Court order comes into effect on July 1.
National highways (NH) 44, 75, 209, 275, 4 and 7, which begin at the General Post office, located at the centre of the city, spread out in six different directions. This geographical fix has restaurant and pub owners worried as they do not know where to relocate.
According to the report, NH 44 and 75 run across 4km each in Bengaluru East, while NH 209 and 275 run for 13.84 km in West. Bengaluru North has NH4 (5.6km) and NH7 (9.64km) while South has 8.3km of NH44.
The excise department had these lists ready in April. Several star hotels have already been served notices by the department to stop serving liquor from July 1 and have refused to renew their licenses.
With severe losses threatening their businesses, several members of bar and pub owners’ association in the city are now mulling over renting their licenses to other outlets.
“If we want to rent out our license to outlets which are not located within 500 m of the highways, then the Excise Department will be able to renew the existing license. That way, we can at least obtain income from the license rent,” a member of the Bengaluru Bar and Pub Owners’ Association said.
Although the state government wrote to the Centre more than two months after the SC order was passed on March 31, the Centre remain mum on the issue.
The Karnataka government will send a team led by a senior official from the finance department to new Delhi on Tuesday to discuss the matter.
“We are confident that the Centre will accept the proposal for denotification. The government will first make sure that all steps to convince the centre are taken before moving the Supreme Court with a review petition. We have already spoken with NHAI and told them that these roads have been maintained by the local civic body for many years now,” Law and Parliamentary affairs Minister, TB Jayachandra said.
The Karnataka government, however, refused the idea of a Punjab-like amendment to allow serving of liquor in hotels, restaurants and clubs on the highway.
“The government wants to follow the SC order both in letter and spirit and we do not propose to make such amendments,” Jayachandra told TOI.