All the stakeholders in The Goa’s Tourism sector have finally decided to join hands to challenge the order of the Supreme Court on a ban of alcohol outlets in Goa. According to the Supreme Courts directives, all the liquor outlets situated within the 500 meters of the National and State highways will have to close down their operations and even the advertisement boards on the highways to be taken out, says the order. The Goa’s Tourism sector stakeholders including, TTAG, GCCI and The All Goa Hotel and Restaurants Owners Association have decided to tackle the Supreme Court order jointly by filling petition against the excise department. The association has submitted that the restaurants do not come under the ambit of Supreme Court orders.
It looks like as if the excise department is in hurry to enforce the Supreme Court directives on out all the outlets selling liquor within the area of 500 meters of highways in Goa, which also includes the food outlets (restaurants). According to the sources, the excise department has already started serving the notices to all the bars and restaurants near highways in Goa. The sources have said that the Excise Department having begun the process of implementing the SC order, the department has forwarded the plea to the Goa government for a reply. “The association has submitted that the Apex Court’s order is not applicable to them but only the bars,” Excise Commissioner Menino D’Souza told Daily Herald.
The action of excise department has posed a threat to the business of food industry in Goa and all the stakeholders have decided to come together against the SC directives. According to the sources, amidst confusion on whether or not the Supreme Court’s order includes bars and restaurants situated along highways, the All Goa Hotel Owners Association has petitioned the Excise Department claiming that their businesses do not come under the ambit of the court’s verdict.
Furthermore, The All Goa Hotel and Restaurants Owners Association has conceded that the SC order is vague as it does not clarify whether the bars and restaurants are covered under it. “We will appeal before the SC asking for clarity and urging to keep our businesses out of the ambit. If the order applies to us, then Rs 300-400 crore will be lost as revenue annually. The sale will see a drop,” association President Gaurish Dhond said. The association is also awaiting the formation of a government next month to put forth their submission seeking relief, said the sources.
Meanwhile, the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), in its annual general meeting held recently, has decided to unitedly fight out the ban on alcohol outlets located within 500m of the outer edge of state and national highways. The sources have said that the TTAG has already submitted a memorandum to the chief secretary stating that the apex court’s order does not apply to hotels.
The Excise Department is, however, going ahead executing the SC orders, said the sources. According to them, the department has taken its first step towards the formation of a taluka level teams to map the number of liquor serving and liquor selling outlets within 500 meters of the National and State highways. A report is expected by February 20. It has also tied up with the Directorate of Municipal Administration and Directorate of Panchayats to ensure removal of the signages and advertisement that indicates the location of liquor outlets. “We have already issued directions to remove the signages,” he stated.
TTAG president Savio Messias told the national newspaper The Times of India that the issue was discussed threadbare. He said that the members felt that they, along with other associations like Goa Chambers of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and trade bodies should take up this issue jointly. Goa’s tourism industry would be affected if the ban comes into force. The cold war has already begun between the Excise Department, who is in hurry to implement the SC orders and the stakeholders of the Tourism Industry of Goa, who are trying to fight out against the SC orders. Let’s wait and watch as what the final results come out. Meanwhile, the implementation of the SC order would not alone hamper the tourism industry of Goa but it will also stop the revenue generation thereby killing the already dying industry of Goa.