More than 20 days after the Supreme Court ordered the shutdown of liquor outlets and bars across India which fall within 500ms distance from state and national highways, the Tamil Nadu government has issued a circular asking all urban local bodies to bring highways within their limits under their ambit.
The circular was issued to all the corporation commissioner and municipal commissioner on Friday by Commissioner of Municipal Administration G Prakash. The circular has asked all the commissioner to take over the national and state highways under their limit. The resolution has been asked to be passed by local bodies before April 25 and be submitted to the commissioner.
The government has said that this move is for administrative purposes. But it is evidently aimed at re-opening all the TASMAC shops and bars that were shut after the Supreme Courtâ€™s order.
It is also said that the Tamil Nadu government is in the process of denotifying Anna Salai as a state highway, and make it a city road, to help reopen liquor outlets and bars attached to star hotels. Earlier, it was reported that the government has plans to downgrade the highway from Chennai till Chengalpet, and that this is being discussed at the highest levels of the government.
More than 100 star hotels were shut down on April 1 in Chennai. About 28 TASMAC outlets were also shut in south Chennai. The areas which come under the Supreme Court include Anna Salai, Ponnamallee High Road, ECR, OMR and 100 Feet Road.
In an earlier article, TNM has pointed out how officials say this move could spell doom for the stateâ€™s road network â€“ especially in construction of new roads and upgradation of old ones.
Of the 11,000 kms of highway roads under the state government, 8,000 kms go through village panchayats. These roads cannot be denotified. The rest of the nearly 3,000 kms of roads will be handed over to local bodies. Which means instead of a single department with, uniform construction standards, looking after these roads, they will be maintained by 124 municipal corporations and 12 corporations in Tamil Nadu.