Even as the State Government is under judicial scrutiny over non-removal of liquor shops located along the National Highways, Jajpur district administration’s recommendation for opening a new IMFL on-shop on NH-5 at Panikoili has raised eyebrows.
The decision has been taken even as the Government has submitted an affidavit before the Orissa High Court informing formation of a high-level committee to formulate a policy for restricting liquor shops along the NHs. If the new on-shop at Hotel Rashmi near Soti village, bang on NH 5, is not enough, the location also violates other provisions like close proximity to temples and schools.
The proposed site has four bathing ghats used by local villagers and a minor school for scheduled caste children within 200 metre. Further, a popular Hanuman temple exists within 30 metre of the site.
The proposal comes in violation of an order issued by Excise Commissioner on January 9 last year directing all district superintendents of excise to ensure strict implementation of the Section 185 of Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 as suggested by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
In view of rising road accidents and drunken driving, the Ministry had said that no fresh licence for liquor shops should be issued along the NH and a circular was issued to all States.
Basing on the circular, the Excise Commissioner had issued the instructions to the districts.
Interestingly, while the Jajpur Collector has recommended for the licence, the Tehsildar of Vyasanagar, replying to an RTI query, stated that the applicant Bimal Kumar Parida’s plot is situated within “zero metre of the NH-5”.
The locals of the area too have strongly opposed the administration’s move.
In a memorandum to the Collector, they stated that annually 10 to 15 people die in road accidents due to drunken driving in the area. Its close proximity to temple, school and bathing ghats apart, the proposed on-shop will have bad impact on the rural neighbourhood and cause a rise in criminal offences, they said adding that Hotel Rashmi being a “dhaba”, on-shop licence cannot be granted to it.
The Communist Party of India’s Jajpur District Council has also raised its objection to opening of the shop.