• States want National Highways converted to urban roads to circumvent SC’s liquor ban order

    Several states have approached the union roads transport and highways ministry to find out if it is possible to convert national highways within their borders into urban roads to circumvent the Supreme Court order to shut down liquor vends and bars along highways.

    Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra, Goa and Uttar Pradesh have consulted the roads ministry to find out a solution to the unexpected fallout of Supreme Court order banning sale and serving of liquor within 500 meters of highways.

    “They have reached out to us informally,” a senior government official told ET. “States such as Goa, Maharashtra and even some union territories like Daman, which have strong tourism industry, are the ones who are suffering the most because of this ban,” the official said.

    After the Centre denotifies some national highways, states along with their local urban bodies would have to renotify them as urban roads or district roads. The official said there have been several cases earlier where national highways were denotified as urban or major district roads.

    “The Ring Road stretch that passes through areas such as South Extension and Bikaji Cama Place in Delhi was a national highway earlier. Later, we passed it on to the state and it was christened as urban road,” the official said.

    In Delhi, all hotels in Aerocity near NH 8 are set to be impacted by the SC order. The basic criteria for declaring any road as a national highway is that how critical that road is for connectivity of two cities in major towns.

    Arterial roads that enable sizeable reduction in travel distance and achieve substantial economic growth are also christened national highways. The conventional standard used is that of passenger car units per day on that road, which should be more than 10,000. Uttar Pradesh has already notified several of its state highways as urban roads or major district roads.

    Even Chandigarh has moved ahead on the same lines. The idea to ban sale on liquor near national highways was pushed by the roads ministry more than a decade ago when it said that no liquor vends should be allowed within 100 metres of national highways. However, an exception was made for national highways going through cities.  Logan Cooke Jersey

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