Mumbai’s two arterial motorways – linking the suburban commuter belt to India’s financial nerve-center – usually are not highways any longer: So, hotels alongside the Western and Eastern Express Highways can serve liquor to their patrons, because the apex court restrictions don’t apply to such outlets after the change within the classification of those roads.
The excise department on Friday started de-sealing the restaurants and bars alongside the 2 roads after the Maharashtra government determined to denotify them as highways.
The government mentioned the ownership of both roads now rests with the planning body constructing the Mumbai Metro Railway and road flyovers within the city, and that it would supervise the operations of both roads for 5 years. The proposal to de-notify the roads came after a request from the planning authority, according to the government note.
“Excise officials have begun the process of de-sealing the bars affected in these hotels and restaurants from today on account of the denotification order. We predict an official circular in this regard by subsequent week,” said and Restaurant Association of Western India.
Hotels comparable to Orchid and Sahara Star had been affected by the ban enforced April 1. Since the March 31 ruling of the Supreme Court on liquor ban on highways, around 1,000 hotels in Maharashtra have been affected, together with the VIP lounge at Mumbai’s domestic airport that’s situated a block away from the Western Express Highway.
Both motorways branch out from roads that join Mumbai’s outlying suburbs to the broader highway grid. The Western Express Highway, which roughly corresponds to what’s known as the Western Line on the Mumbai suburban railway, branches off from the road that leads to Gujarat in the north. Similarly, the Eastern Express Highway snakes past the Central Line on Mumbai’s commuter-railway map and ultimately ends in a highway network that links to central Maharashtra.
“The MMRDA Metropolitan commissioner had requested on April 10 to transfer both highways in Mumbai to it for 5 years in the backdrop of ongoing work of the metro project and various flyovers,” according to the Maharashtra authorities’ notification in Marathi.
It further said that the government has accepted the request and is “de-notifying both Eastern and Western highways within the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) limits, and these are being transferred to MMRDA for 5 years.”
Originally an island city, Mumbai stretches in a north-south axis along three traditional railway routes and two motorways. The Metro Railway is aimed at bringing modern transport solutions to India’s commercial hub and ease the strain on the century-old overland railway system and the two motorways that run through some of the most congested suburbs in South Asia.
One Metro line is now operational, providing a link between the Western and Central lines of the overland commuter railway.
Other regions within the state, such as Nagpur and Buldhana, continue to be affected following the liquor ban and have witnessed several closures.
Industry insiders said about 500 hotels and restaurants out of 700 establishments have completely shut in Nagpur following the 31st March Supreme Court ruling banning liquor sale within 500 meters of national and state highways.
“About 70% of the hotels in the Buldhana district are affected. People have loans to pay,” said Gopal Chaudhari, the head of the hotel association in Buldhana.
Aashish Gupta, the consultant CEO of apex industry body FAITH, said the association has met and engaged with policy makers in all states.
“We have engaged with them and updated them of our concerns. We hope the states can interpret our concerns in the right context,” he said.
To minimise excise revenue loss and contain the damage to the hospitality industry, state governments were looking at ways to avoid or tackle the Supreme Court order banning the sale of liquor within 500 meters of national and state highways.
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