PANJIM: The December 16, 2016, order of the Supreme Court banning the sale of liquor along National Highways and within 500 meters of highways could spell doom for Goan tourism.
Herald investigations have revealed that around 8,000 liquor outlets, bars and restaurants or hotels would be affected if the State government implements the Supreme Court order in toto.
After the mining ban the Goan economy was completely dependent on the tourism sector. However, the recent judgement could be a nightmare for the new government which takes office after March 11, 2017.
Documents available with Herald reveal that the Public Works Department (PWD) has submitted the list of National Highways, State Highways and bypasses in Goa and if the ban is to be strictly implemented almost 80 per cent of liquor businesses in Goa could be wiped off easily (see table).
Goa has two National Highways NH17 from Patradevi to Pollem and NH4A from Anmod to Panjim. Besides, there are two others – NH17A from Cortalim to Mormugao and NH17B from Farmagudi to Mormugao.
There are also eight state highways: Cuchelim-Valpoi, Assonora-Dodamarg, Honda-Pillem, Sanquelim-Chorla Ponda-Margao, Borim-Zuna, Dharbandora-Curchorem and Margao-Curchorem.
Not only along these highways and bypasses, but the axe will come down on thousands of outlets within 500 meters of the national highways.
Though the Excise Department is still conducting a survey on the number of outlets which could be affected, Herald understands, at least 8000 businesses would be affected by the ruling, which includes hotels, restaurants, bars and retail and wholesale outlets.
Gaurish Dhond, President of Goa Hotel and Restaurant Association says, “The issue in Goa is different and has to be reviewed by the Supreme Court. Goa is a small place and two national highways NH17 and NH4A cut through the State besides the NH17A and NH17B. Besides this there are eight state highways.”
Dhond further said that if this order is to be implemented the livelihood of thousands of people would be at stake. “We have come under the banner of National Highway Affected Liquor Traders Association and will move Supreme Court for a review,” he said.
Dattaprasad Naik, President of Liquor Owners Association, says that there are several old roads which are still shown as national highways. “The road from Panjim to Old Goa via Ribandar Causeway is still shown as the National Highway despite the new Kadamba bypass highway,” he said.
Naik, who is the BJP candidate from Taleigao, says “The new government which is elected on March 11 must immediately denotify the old highways.” He also called on politicians to cut across party lines and support them. “This is a question of livelihood of traditional businesses besides the tourism sector and hence the issue should not be politicised,” he added.
When contacted Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said that while the new government will take a decision on the matter he would do everything necessary to help the affected people. “I am not disputing the Supreme Court order but we will ask for a revision of this order. Being a tourist State the ban could wreak havoc with tourism-related businesses, unlike in other States,” Parsekar said.