SUDESH BHOSLE | NT
The Supreme Court order to shut down liquor shops within 500-metre radius of the highways will affect around 93 per cent of the bars, wine shops and retail stores of the total 285 such outlets identified by the excise department in Momugao taluka.
A majority of the liquor shops, wholesalers and retailers in the port town of Vasco are likely to face closure, making Vasco free from the sale and consumption of liquor.
According to Mormugao excise department inspector Mukund Gauns, the taluka jurisdiction consists of three-category highways. The first category comprises of National Highway 17 – the stretch from Panaji to Margao, while the second category includes National Highway 17B stretch, which covers up the four-lane highway starting from the meeting point at Verna to Headland-Sada via Consua, Upasnagar, MES College junction, Alto Dabolim, Dabolim, Shantinagar, Mangor-Hill, Varunapuri, Gandhinagar, Baina and Desterro. The third category includes National Highway 17A starting from the Cortalim junction upto Headland-Sada and covering the areas of Sancoale, Matvem Dabolim, Chicalim, Vaddem, GSL, St Andrew’s church square, Swatantra Path, IOC junction, Rumdawada and jetty.
Gauns said that the liquor shops, which will be affected by the apex court order are divided into three categories – wholesale, wine shops consisting of retail sales and packed bottles and retail sales in consumption involving bars and restaurants. He, however, said that the bars and restaurants besides the retailers and wholesalers of liquor in remote areas such as Cansaulim, Arossim, Cavelossim and other areas besides those coming under the jurisdiction of Cortalim constituency would not be affected by the apex court order.
A committee appointed to conduct the survey of liquor shops within the radius of 500 metres from the highways will undertake the exercise with the help of unique global positioning system (GPS) software, which is a new digital surveying technique. The committee consists of Mormugao excise department inspector, Mormugao mamlatdar, PWD engineers (roads), officials of the land survey department, panchayat secretaries, talathis and other officials of the respective departments.
Gauns said, “The Mormugao excise department has identified 285 shops in the taluka including wholesale shops, wine shops involving retail sales and packed bottles besides the retail sale in consumption involving bars and restaurant.”
Some of the bar and restaurant owners in the port town were of the opinion that the apex court order will adversely affect the livelihood of the restaurant owners, who are in the business for the past several decades.
Proprietor of ‘Rodrigues Wine Stores’ Joaquim Rodrigues, who has been in the wine business since the last 25 years said, “The order issued by the Supreme Court to shut down bars and other liquor shops along the highways is against the interest of bar owners, who are totally dependent on the bars for their livelihood.”
Rodrigues said, “The Supreme Court has directed the state government authorities and the traffic police to maintain strict surveillance on bars, which are operating beyond the scheduled time, and has even directed the traffic authorities to install closed-circuit television cameras along the highways to monitor bars and other wine dealers which will subsequently help reduce the number of accidents.” “However, the Supreme Court decision would affect the livelihood of the bar owners and other wine dealers and wholesalers in the port town of Vasco. The business of others, who are operating their bars and liquor shops from the village areas in Bogmalo and other coastal villages would not be hampered,” said Rodrigues adding that shutting down of bars and other wine shops along the highways is not the solution to the issue. He appealed to the state government to file a review petition before the Supreme Court.
“Simply running a restaurant without a bar would make no sense for bar owners in Goa,” said Salvador alias Salu Pegado of Vasco, who owns ‘Anju Celebrity Bar and Restaurant’ along the NH17A. “The present BJP-led government or any other political party, which would form the new government in the state should consider the request of the bar and restaurant owners to give relaxation or file a review petition before the Supreme Court, as there is no other livelihood to the affected bar and restaurant owners in the state,” said Pegado. He said that the tourists, who visit the state, prefer to buy liquor, which is easily accessible and available along the highways.
Meanwhile, the Mormugao municipal council has already started initiating action against hoardings, banners and posters suggesting sale of liquor along the highways.