Mixed response to govt nod on serving liquor on highways

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Divya Sharma

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 21

The Punjab Government has decided to amend Section 26-A of the Punjab Excise Act, 1914, to allow hotels, restaurants and clubs to serve liquor within 500 metres of highways, which was earlier banned by a Supreme Court order.

The Supreme Court had banned in April the sale of liquor within 500 metres on either side of the national and state highways, which also included serving of liquor in marriage palaces as well as banquet halls.

As the government is all set to amend the law, we talk to some of the prominent residents about their take on the development.

Criticising the move of the government, Surinder Duggal, general sectary, Punjab Chemist Association, said, “On the one hand, they are requesting people not to get involved in any kind of drug abuse and on the other hand, they have allowed consumption of alcohol. I doubt the intention of the state government led by Capt Amarinder Singh.”

Supporting the move, Seenu Arora, president, Voice of Amritsar, a nongovernmental organisation, said, “Most of the hotels and the restaurants flourish near national highways. Land comes at a premium and infrastructure cost is high. Closing liquor vends is understandable, but to put these hotels and restaurants out of business stood no logic. So it is a correct step. Let’s not see it as promotion of liquor only but have a correct perspective.”

Gunbir Singh from the Dilbir Foundation said, “The move to generate revenue is understandable, but there can be various ramifications of the move such as increase in road accidents on the highways.”

Commending the move, Dr PD Garg, head, Swami Vivekananda Drug De-addiction and Treatment Centre, said, “The government is not focused on its financial benefits. A government should focus on the overall situation before deciding upon anything.”

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