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Crackdown Fails to Muzzle Flow of Alcohol in Tamil Nadu 

Chennai: Despite crackdown on liquor in Tamil Nadu, it is freely available in the state.

A CNN-News18 investigation found that extra money will get you liquor with ease in the state throughout the day.

The Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) shops are flouting laws to serve alcohol in the state.

The following is an exchange between an undercover CNN-News18 reporter and a TASMAC employee.

Reporter: Brother, just one beer, just one. Don’t you have British Empire?

TASMAC employee: No

R: What all brands do you have?

T: Only this is there.

R: How much is it?

T: Rs 170

(Reporter hands over the money and only a hand appears out of the window to collect it)

R: Will it be available if I come at 6?

T: Come whenever, it’ll be there.

The TASMAC employee made it clear that liquor was available and tipplers can go anytime to buy liquor. Even at 6 AM, tipplers go to these shops and buy liquor.

Clearly, liquor is still being sold in the state but at a premium.

In 2016, ahead of the State Assembly polls, prohibition was an electoral promise with the DMK, the PMK promising implementation and the AIADMK promised implementation of prohibition in a phased manner.

When AIADMK came to power, Jayalalithaa ordered shutting of 500 TASMAC shops and also reduced the business hours of the liquor outlets by two hours.

When Edapadi Palaniwami was sworn in, he too ordered shutting of 500 more shops. Of the 6800 shops, 1000 shops are shut.

In another exchange, an undercover CNN-News18 reporter found out that TASMAC shops were selling liquor at a higher price than the MRP even during business hours. The reporter was told that this the usual practice across all the remaining shops. Here is the following exchange:

Reporter: How much is beer for?

TASMAC employee: Rs 130

R: But Rs 120 is the MRP

T:  It is Rs 130 everywhere

R: Why a higher price?

T: Labour costs are high, we get a salary which is far less.

This comes at a time when there have been massive TASMAC protests in several districts of Tamil Nadu.

In Tirupur, a woman protester was slapped by a police officer while she was protesting against the relocation of a TASMAC shop. There have been similar protests in Coimbatore saying ‘No’ to TASMAC.

Chandra Mohan, a member of Arapor Iyakkam, said, “Prohibition cannot be implemented in a state like Tamil Nadu as both the DMK and the AIADMK own distilleries that supply to TASMAC shops.  Unless people’s movement happens, liquor will be sold freely and openly. “

CNN-News18 tried to get a response from the state government but got no reply.

The state government had moved to de-notify state highways and hand them over to municipalities after the Supreme Court order that stated that the sale of liquor on state and national highways should be banned within 500-meter of highways. The shops on the highways can be relocated, it added.

The Madras High Court too directed the government to not open any TASMAC shops near highways for the next three months.

One-third of the state’s revenue comes from TASMAC shops and employees claim that they have been forced to meet the targets. ​

First Published: May 11, 2017, 9:37 PM IST