150 widows stand testimony to ills of illicit liquor

THE HANS INDIA |   Mar 21,2017 , 04:30 AM IST


Tirupati: The 150 odd widows in a single habitation stand as live testimony of the evil effects of illicit distilled liquor (IDL). The plight of these widows out of 700 women raises many an eyebrow seriously on the very existence of the government over the years. VM Palle is not a remote village but one of the three habitations in the first ward of Sri Kalahasti Municipality.

It is needless to say that it is the constituency of the Minister for Forests and Environment Bojjala Gopalakrishna Reddy. The other two habitations are Jai Hind Puram and KH Wada. If the widows in these two habitations were added to VM Palle the figure may go up to 220.

The Hans India visited VM Palle Dalit wada and interacted with several widows to find out the root cause of the problem. They were saying in one voice that addiction for illicit distilled liquor killed their husbands. Producing illicit liquor became their livelihood almost two decades back.

Using urea, sulphate, tyres and other material in the preparation of liquor makes it very harmful and slowly killed them. They used to make it – sell it - and drink it themselves. For every 10 houses almost 8 houses used to make this deadly potion. Major part of their little earnings was spent on drinking only.

Pasala Mahalakshamma’s story is pathetic. The addiction took the lives of her husband and two sons. First her husband died due to the addiction to IDL.  A daily wage earner she somehow performed the marriages of her three sons. They are having children too. Later, two sons lost their lives due to the same addiction and their widows are working as daily labour. Even then, her third son has not stopped drinking.

Thus, there are three widows in her house itself. Similarly, Pasala Erramma’s husband died a few years ago and she is having five children. Liquor killed three of them. Another widow Nagarathnamma said that her two daughters got married a few years ago but are now widowed. Kamalamma’s husband and son also died due to this deadly addiction. Her daughter-in-law also became a widow along with her.

Pasala Kishtamma’s husband was killed three years ago. She took a loan and bought a cow which is her livelihood now. She is having two children. Naluguru Subbamma, Kishtamma, Sarojanamma, Penchalamma, Polamma, Munemma and the list as well as their miseries goes on. During 2005-2007, many deaths occurred in that area.

Then social organisations, excise and other government officials took some steps and organised awareness programmes. As a result the number of deaths has come down significantly now. Even then, till one and half years ago 34 families used to make illicit liquor. Around 10-15 educated youth stood strongly to stop that menace. Now it is completely stopped said Kumar Swamy, son of that ward councilor Mahalakshmi, who is also a widow.

Though there are no wine shops now in that ward but belt shops are playing havoc today. Moreover, since it is the municipal town they can go to other wards to buy alcohol. The nearby wine shops are benefitting now. The women are demanding that alcohol must be prohibited completely along with gutkha. “Now people are burning their money on gutkha too”, they said.

Some DWACRA groups are there and training is being provided in several works by MEPMA frequently. But, as most of them are petty labourers they really need livelihood. They gave representations to the Minister and Collector too. Prohibition & Excise department promised to help in getting loans through SC Corporation.

The CI of Prohibition & Excise K Leela Rani told The Hans that, now IDL manufacturing is completely stopped here. The subsidised loans were sanctioned by the Collector but pending disbursal with the banks for long. 

By V Pradeep Kumar