SC ban on highway liquor sale: Mumbai hotels claim 50% drop in business

A wine shop with its shutters down in Navi Mumbai on Sunday, after the Supreme Court’s order. Narendra Vaskar A wine shop with its shutters down in Navi Mumbai on Sunday, after the Supreme Court’s order. Narendra Vaskar

Hoteliers in Mumbai have started feeling the heat of the Supreme Court ban on all liquor vending outlets within a distance of 500 metres of national and state highways, with many complaining of a 50 per cent drop in business.

There are close to 300 hotels and permit rooms abutting roughly 80 kilometres of the three highways that traverse Mumbai.

Some of these hotels include starred properties in the vicinity of the airport. Many of these properties claimed that they did nearly 50 per cent less business Sunday with patrons preferring to eat at places serving liqour.

“We have stopped serving liqour since the ban came into effect. It has impacted the flow of customers,” said an official at Four Points, which is located next to the Sion-Panvel highway.

Starred properties are known to witness a heavy customer footfall for brunch. Many hotel owners said the absence of liqour had made people choose other alternatives.

“We saw our clientele come down by nearly 50 per cent Saturday night and during brunch timings Sunday. It will have a massive impact on the industry, which has poured so much investment into creating these facilities,” said a representative of a restaurant abutting the Western Express Highway.

Many demanded that local bodies should take over highways to help the industry.

“We have vehicles that travel bumper to bumper on the roads. With so much traffic, do you think it makes sense to quantify roads within Mumbai as highways. They should be termed as city roads,” said another hotel owner.

Adarsh Shetty, president of the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association, which calls itself AHAR, claimed that the order had not only affected hotels but also the Mumbai airport’s VIP lounge.

“The star hotels are known for serving liquor in various forms, like different types of cocktails. They get business from such service… The decision has affected the business model,” said Shetty.

The only way that the rule can be circumvented is in the event of local bodies taking over control of these highways and notifying them as city roads. While the move is possible for cash-rich bodies like the BMC and the MMRDA, other corporations in the state are facing a cash crunch and are not willing to take up an additional financial burden.

The Jalgaon Municipal Corporation, which was handed over possession of six highway stretches by the public works department previously, was not too happy with the move, with Commissioner Jivan Sonawane lamenting the extra financial burden.

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