National and state highways in states like Maharashtra, Himachal, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, and others have turned into local roads, after an order from Supreme Court banning liquor sale along highways.
Most states have not specified any reason for changing the categories and some have even denied that the step has been taken in view of the Supreme Court verdict.
Maharashtra government okayed proposals from three municipal corporations to classify highways passing through their areas to city roads last week. Himachal Pradesh re-notified 16 state highways as major district roads (MDR).
PWD Minister Chandrakant Patil of Maharashtra said that the government had received proposals from Jalgaon, Latur and Yavatmal municipal corporations seeking de-notification of the highways which were okayed.
The West Bengal government declared around 275 km of state highways passing through various municipalities as ‘arterial roads’.
The state government did not give any reason for the denotification which covers stretches along all the 16 state highways.
A similar decision was taken by Uttarakhand government, allowing denotification of state highways located in the areas of local civic bodies and re-categorised them as other district roads saying highway specifications were coming in the way of their maintenance and expansion. Congress claimed that it is just a “pretext” for helping liquor trade which is a major source of revenue.
Rajasthan & Punjab government also denotified the bypassed stretches of seven state highways and turned them into a part of the city roads.
In Goa, the Manohar Parrikar government faced issues from some opposition leaders who demanded that he come to the rescue of the tourism industry in the state. At an event, he said “India is a vast country…Goa is a tourist state, we need some relaxations. But I am not going to denotify highways.”
Meanwhile, in several places, people protested attempts to relocate liquor vends in their localities.
Following such protest, Uttar Pradesh government said that it would not allow shops which have to relocated following a Supreme Court order banning the sale of liquor along highways to come up near religious places, schools or populated areas.