Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Monday (July 26) told the Rajya Sabha that the Union government has no say in removing liquor shops along national and state highways because the matter falls in the jurisdiction of states.
In response to a question, Gadkari said, “My ministry deals with matters related to development of National Highways and providing access to properties situated along the National Highways. It has no control on the usage of and business run in these properties located beyond the Right of Way (ROW) of National Highways. Government does not collect data on removal of liquor shops as this is a state subject.”
Gadkari’s response assumes significance in the backdrop of a 2016 Supreme Court order that prevented granting of licences for sale of liquor along national and state highways and over a distance of 500 metres from the outer edge of the national or state highways or of a service lane along the highway. “In the case of areas under jurisdiction of in local bodies with a population of 20,000 people or less, the distance of 500 metres is reduced to 220 metres,” the minister said.
Gadkari said the Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways had urged all the states and Union Territories (UTs) to follow the Supreme Court in this regard.
Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, also has a provision for imprisonment or fine or both for the offence of drunken driving cases.
Also read: Increase speed limit at least by 20 kmph, Gadkari tells states
On part of the Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry, campaigns are conducted through print and electronic media to spread awareness about dangers of drunken driving, said Gadkari.
In December 2016, the apex court ordered a ban on liquor sales along both national and state highways. The apex court stated that liquor and liquor shop ads should not be even visible from the national or state highways. The SC order was meant for new licence holders/renewals only and not for existing liquor shops, which were allowed to function till the expiry of their licences.
In reply to another question, Gadkari said a total of 4,49,002 road accidents occurred in India in 2019, causing 1,51,113 deaths.
The minister said that road accidents happen due to multiple causes such as over speeding, drunken driving, driving on wrong side/lane, indiscipline, fault of the driver of motor vehicle, use of mobile phones during driving etc.
(With inputs from agencies)