After Supreme Court's order of banishing liquor from bars, permit rooms, restaurants or liquor shops within 500m of the national and state highways from April 1, this weekend is going to be dry for most of Mumbai's weekend goers.
In all, 290 establishments will be affected in the city. Across Maharashtra 9,925 shops and bars near state and national highways will have to close down or go permanently dry .
The move, said excise department sources, will eventually hit almost half of the state's excise revenue. The amount could be as high as Rs 5,000-6,000 crore every year.
Going by advocate general Mukul Rohatgi's opinion that the SC order pertained only to liquor vends, the state had initially proposed to remove 850 shops from near highways and let 9,075 bars go on functioning.
The two express highways that reach almost 25 km into Mumbai have some of the busiest stretches of bars, permit rooms and restaurants, many housed in starred hotels, in Andheri, Goregaon, Bandra, Borivli, Thane, Dahisar, Mira Road, Kandivli, Chembur, Kurla, and so on. If the Mumbai Metropolitan Region is taken into account, the number of affected establishments co mes to about 2,000, of which nearly 1,200 are bars and 800 shops.
Besides Mumbai, cities like Pune, Nagpur, Satara, Solapur, and Kolhapur will be hit badly as almost 90% liquor joints are located along highways passing through them.
Adarsh Shetty, president of Ahar, an association of over 8,000 bars and restaurants in Mumbai, called it the saddest day for the hospitality industry .
Shetty said, "None of the bars will be able to shift as relocation is a very tough job. Who eats food these days without liquor? Some of the shops may shift but ultimately the businesses will get affected badly, and so will government revenue."
Sources in the state PWD department said a possible denotification of all highway stretches passing through cities and towns is under consideration. Taking out the 'highway' tag from the roads and asking the local authorities to maintain them could save many of the bars, vends and permit rooms. But the move has yet to gain momentum.
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