Wine shop relocation worry for officials, protest brews

Paradip: Protest has been brewing among people of around 2000 highway-side villages in the state over relocation of wine shops into the village periphery. The issue of relocation was taken by the state government as per the Apex court ruling.

The Supreme Court had issued directions to the states and union territories to desist from granting licenses for the sale of alcohol along national and state highways and had directed that no liquor shop be located within five hundred metres of the highway.

According to the decision, 1167 licensed highway-side shops have been shut down across 30 districts of the state.  It is estimated the loss of excise revenue following the closure and relocation would be to the tune of Rs 1200 crore, as per official sources.

The district administration will not act against people’s interest. The liquor shops functioning along state/national highways will be relocated with the consent of local residents only, said district Collector, Khurda, Niranjan Sahu. As many as 75 wine shops have closed in the district.

“We have invited suggestions from people where relocated shops are proposed to come up. The locals have the right to raise objection because the process is being done in accordance with the provisions of Bihar-Odisha excise act,”  he said.

The administration, he stated, has received many petitions objecting to shifting of liquor shops to their respective localities.

Kendrapara collector Mauralidhar Mallick echoed similar views.  “We have also received petitions and objections in case of relocation of shops in village areas. Besides the district excise office here is also in receipt of objection petitions. Thirty-six highway-side wine shops have been shutdown. The relocation issue would be settled prioritising people’s interest”, said Kendrapara district Collector, Muralidhar Mallick.

“Under no circumstances, we are going to allow a liquor shop in our village. Alcoholism had become rampant in our NH-side village. We had launched anti-liquor campaign three years back and the administration was forced to shut down the licensed IMFL shop.   Alcoholic habits of male earning members are breaking up the family life. So we have raised objection to the relocation of the IMFL shop into our village”, said a resident of Kalapada village, Artatrana Behera.