Skirting 500m ban, Punjab to pave way for hotels, restaurants, clubs to serve liquor near highways

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab government on Monday gave its nod to the proposal to amend section 26A of the Punjab Excise Act, 1914, for fixing location of liquor vends on national and state highways. The amendment, once passed, would lift restrictions on hotels, restaurants and clubs from serving liquor within 500 metres of state and national highways, a spokesman said here after a meeting of the council of ministers.

"No retail vend (of liquor) would be opened within 500 metres of the national and state highways, but these restrictions shall not apply to hotels, restaurants and clubs," he said.

The Supreme Court had recently put the 500-metre restriction on all sales points of liquor after petitions argued that liquor sale near highways encouraged drunken driving.

"The CoM (council of ministers) gave a go-ahead to the draft amendment Bill in this regard, to be tabled during the current budget session for enactment," the spokesman said. Chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh chaired the meeting.

Other decisions

The council also gave its formal approval to the budgetary proposals to be presented by finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal in the assembly on Tuesday.

The council also approved the setting up of a dedicated horticulture university to promote crop diversification in the state, to help in bringing changes in cropping patterns to include the planting of vegetables, fruits, herbs, aromatic and medicinal herbs, fibre and tuber crops, sericulture, fodder crops and floriculture, the spokesman said.

At present, the total area under fruit plants and vegetables is approximately 3 lakh hectares in Punjab, constituting only approximately 4% of the total land in agrarian Punjab and a fraction of the country's total area.

Green Revolution state Punjab contributes nearly 50% of foodgrains (wheat and paddy) to the national kitty.


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