Mumbai: Considering the high number of deaths in national and State highways, the State has decided to implement Supreme Court’s verdict of December 15 to shut down liquor shops and vends within 500 metre radius of highways and service roads. Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said that state will bear loss of revenue and will focus on saving lives.

Mungantiwar said, last year out of total 16,856 deaths, 13,212 deaths were due to road accidents and again maximum deaths were due to drunken driving.

“The State government is prepared to incur loss in its revenue and will implement the SC order to save these lives,” said Mungantiwar. The SC verdict effectively means that 12,967 liquor shops in the State that fall within the 500-meter radius will have to shut down after March 31, 2017.

“The amount that we have to spend over social schemes for handicap and windows (due to accident) will be saved and this saving will be more than revenue loss due to closure of liquor shops,” Mungantiwar advocated his decision.

When asked about the contention of the liquor lobby about revenue loss, the minister said they (liquor lobby) are not in the business of selling holy water.

Anand Bakle, executive member of Chamber of Associations of Maharashtra Industry and Trade claimed once the order will be implemented, the State will lose more than 65 per cent excise tax.
According to official of State Excise department, it has bagged Rs 12,000 crore revenue during 2014-15 and for this year, the department has set target of revenue worth Rs 15,343 crore.

Predictably enough, the State Excise department is not happy with the government’s decision. Sources in the department argued that already due to the demonetisation move, the department anticipates a 4.88 percent decline in revenue between December 1 to December 20 this month. The SC verdict will only further reduce that revenue income of the state, said an official on condition of anonymity.

The effect of demonetisation on revenue can be gauged from the fact that between December 1 to December 20, 2015, the department posted a revenue income of Rs 670.25 crore. Whereas the revenue income for the same corresponding period this December stands at Rs 637.57 crore, a deficit of 4.88 per cent.

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