Tirupati: To overcome Corona crisis, cab drivers turn liquor smugglers
- 22 travels drivers in Tirupati have been arrested by SEB in the last few months for peddling liquor from Karnataka
- Closure of travel industry, lockdowns and restrictions pushe many cab drivers into financial problems
- Huge difference in prices of liquor in AP and Karnataka is fuelling the smuggling
Tirupati: Months of unemployment has forced many cab drivers into bootlegging in the district. With no income due to lockdown and restrictions, many travel vehicle drivers have turned to smuggling non-duty paid (NDP) liquor from Karnataka.
Statistics of raids and seizures effected by Special Enforcement Bureau in the last few months reveal that 22 out of the 46 liquor smugglers caught in the act in the district were travel vehicle or cab drivers.
Huge difference in the price of liquor in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka means earning considerable profit to maintain their families in these hard times. According to sources, have turned to smuggling liquor from Karnataka as it is just across the border from Chittoor district.
The AP government has increased the prices of cheap liquor abnormally, purportedly to wean away addicts from the booze as part of its 'phased' prohibition. While a quarter bottle of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) sells at Rs 180 in our state, it is around Rs 80 in the neighbouring states.
People, mainly daily wage labourers and other poor sections are unable to buy the liquor from government outlets at such a huge prices. In this backdrop, some travel drivers entered into the business as they are familiar with routes and places in the neighbouring state.
They buy each quarter bottle at Rs 80 and sell it anywhere from Rs 100 to Rs 120, thus earning a profit of Rs 20 to Rs 40 on each bottle. It is a win-win for both sides as the buyer saves Rs 80-Rs 40 on each bottle.
In recent raids, SEB personnel seized huge quantities of Karnataka liquor in tetra packets from travel drivers and noticed that most of them had worked as drivers in tourism cab drivers to Tirumala. Most of these peddlers are found to be residents of Tirupati Urban and Rural areas.
SEB assistant excise superintendent M Sudheer Babu told The Hans India that they were closely keeping tabs on habitual peddlers who were involved in non-duty paid liquor sales and trying to counsel them to bring change among them. "More than 40 per cent of the accused previously worked as travel vehicles drivers and now they have turned into smugglers, Sudheer Banu said.