India’s top court has ordered all liquor shops to shut down along state and national highways in an attempt to reduce drink driving and road accidents.
The court told the government to stop issuing new licences and renewing existing ones after 31 March.
More than 146,000 people died last year in traffic accidents in the country.
About 5% – or 6,755 – deaths were caused by drivers who had either been drunk or had taken drugs.
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“(There should be) no liquor vends on national and state highways,” AFP news agency quoted Chief Justice TS Thakur, who headed the three-judge bench, as saying in his order on Thursday.
The court also said that all liquor advertisements should be removed from the highways and shops selling alcohol must be located at least 500 metres (1,640 feet) away from them.
Campaigners say the large number of liquor shops located along the highways are “a great temptation and a distraction for road users”.
Alcohol is banned in four Indian states (Gujarat, Bihar, Manipur and Nagaland) and the union territory of Lakshadweep. There’s a partial ban on sale of alcohol in the southern state of Kerala.