No intention to sidestep SC order on liquor shops: Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah

Bengaluru: The Karnataka government decision to denotify highways in urban local bodies limits was not intended to circumvent the Supreme Court order banning liquor outlets within 500 metres of highways, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said in the Legislative Council.

Responding to a question by a member about the state cabinet’s decision, he said the highways were anyway maintained by urban local bodies and they were just being handed over to them for “better maintenance”.

In this process, some liquor shops would be saved as also jobs of those who depend on them, he added.

The cabinet had on Wednesday decided to denotify highways passing through the limits of urban local bodies, and send a recommend the tion to central government for giving effect to it.

The Supreme Court in December last year had ordered that liquor vends within 500 metres of national and state highways will have to shut down from April 1.

Siddaramaiah clarified that the government was in no way encouraging drinking, as opposition members spoke about the “ill effects” of saving liquor shops. He also said prohibition was not practically feasible.

Also noting that notices have been issued to liquor shops to close by June 30 (in accordance with state’s excise year) as per the Supreme Court’s orders, he also pointed at the review petition pending before the apex court in the matter.

Unhappy with his reply, opposition BJP staged a walkout accusing the government of succumbing to liquor lobby.

State government’s decision to denotify highways was expected to help hundreds of liquor shops functioning along 858 km of national and state highways.

Around 6,015 liquor shops come within the radius of 500 metres along the state and national highways in the state.