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Tamil Nadu women up in arms against liquor shops moving to villages after highway ban order

Women are protesting opening of Tasmac in agricultural fields closer to residential clusters in villages as the apex court banned serving liquor close to highways.

india Updated: Apr 30, 2017 15:03 IST
KV Lakshmana
KV Lakshmana
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Liquor ban,Highway liquor ban,Tamil Nadu women
Bhopal, India - April 12, 2017: Women staging a demonstration to protest against a liquor shop in Chhatarpur.

More women are taking lead in anti-liquor campaigns in various villages with shops now moving to residential localities after the Supreme Court ordered removal of liquor vends from within 500 meters of highways.

At Kancheepuram village, a group of women got together and pulled down a structure that was supposed to house a liquor store of Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (Tasmac). The men, too, joined the protest. Village panchayat vice-president M Dilli Babu said that a few days ago, a former employee at a Tasmac shop on the highway came and scouted for a spot in the village. The villagers then met the collector, who assured them that the shop would not come up.

However, according to the villagers, construction of a building started taking place where the liquor shop was to come up. Therefore, they pulled it down on Thursday afternoon. The owner of the land, Venkadesan, insisted that it was not supposed to house liquor shop, but the villagers didn’t pay heed to him.

Whether it is Chinnayapalem village near Coimbatore or Samalapuram town near Tirupur, or for that matter in Tiruchirapalli or Vellore, the story is the same. Women are protesting opening of Tasmac in agricultural fields closer to residential clusters in villages as the apex court banned serving liquor close to highways.

Sumalata, one of the protesters at Chinnayapalem, said, “Once the liquor shop comes up here, there will be no security for women as all kinds of people would visit the place. There will be an increase in incidents of eve teasing too. It would be difficult for people to walk on this path because of the drunkards in the area.”

There are 79 houses in Chinnayapalem and all of them have hoisted black flags as a mark of protest against the administration for its plan to open liquor shop in the village. A memorandum has also been submitted to the collector protesting this decision. At Ranganathapuram colony, women find it difficult to fetch water or go for errands as they are targets of verbal abuse and rude comments from drunkards in the area.

Similar is the situation at many villages where women are in the forefront of the agitation to stop liquor shops from moving into residential areas. At a shop in Kattur near Tiruchirapalli, the shop is legal but residents protest that it opens well before the prescribed time and operates even after the official closing time.

At a village in Vellore, protests by women entered the fifth day on Friday. The protests began on April 10 when Tasmac officials came to inspect a spot in village for their shop. Despite objections by villagers, who have pitched a tent opposite the proposed shop, Tasmac officials are going ahead with their plans to open the outlet.

Tasmac, a TN government body, has sole monopoly over sale and distribution of liquor in the state and has a revenue of close to Rs 30,000 crore, which will suffer a huge blow because of the Supreme Court order.

First Published: Apr 15, 2017 10:16 IST