PUDUCHERRY: The Supreme Court directive banning liquor shops within 500 metres of National and State Highways has led to a peculiar situation in Puducherry, with the Excise Department stating that the arterial East Coast Road that passes through the city does not fall under the category of State Highway.
The Excise Department had identified as many as 163 liquor shops with FL 1 licence (without permission to serve liquor for consumption on the premises) and FL 2 licence for tourism category (hotels and restaurants) to be operating within 500 m of highways, reports The Hindu.
Of them, around 42 wholesale liquor shops, 97 retail outlets and 24 with FL 2 category in the Union Territory are located in the vicinity of Cuddalore Road, Tindivanam Road, Villupuram Road in Puducherry and the outlying regions of Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam.
While the 163 shops and bars attached to hotels on the above stretches have been closed down following the apex court order, shops located on ECR from Rajiv Gandhi Square to Karuvadikuppam in Puducherry, however, continue to function as usual. Most of the shops situated on this section of the ECR were doing roaring business.
A senior official reasoned that the Supreme Court order was not applicable to this part of the ECR running through the city as it had not been classified as a State Highway by the government so far. Though the ECR starting point is from Chennai to Kanyakumari, the government has not issued any notification on the ECR as a State Highway, he said.
Sources said that the Excise Department was virtually skirting the apex court order by allowing shops to function on an arterial road that passes through the city. The stretch of ECR from Rajiv Gandhi square to Karuvadikuppam is dotted with residential colonies and educational institutions with heavy traffic zipping through the stretch round the clock.