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It's business as usual for liquor shops in Chennai

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Highlights

Estimation of losses due to the recent Chennai floods are being felt in many ways. Life seems to be slowly getting back to normalcy, however there is one service which is much more agile, and that is the state-run liquor shops. The Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TNSMC) has a monopoly over wholesale and retail vending of alcoholic beverages in the state of Tamil Nadu.

Estimation of losses due to the recent Chennai floods are being felt in many ways. Life seems to be slowly getting back to normalcy, however there is one service which is much more agile, and that is the state-run liquor shops. The Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TNSMC) has a monopoly over wholesale and retail vending of alcoholic beverages in the state of Tamil Nadu.

Currently, there are 11 private distilleries (courtesy: TNSMC website) that have the license to make liquor. Keeping in mind, the TNSMC is a government agency hence the sale is controlled by the state government.
Recently, a PIL (Public interest litigation) was filed at the Madras High court (under Art.226) for closure of liquor shops in the flood affected areas for a period of two months. The court rejected the plea stating it is the decision of the state government and hence it will not interfere in the policies of the state government.
When any natural calamity occurs, it is the duty of the government to arrange financial assistance for the destitute. Now moving along the same principle and also keeping in mind next year's assembly elections, the AIAIDMK government announced Rs.5000 - Rs.10,000 to those who were majorly affected by the Dec 7th natural catastrophe.
With problems like resettlement, lost livelihood, many choose the alcohol way. Tamil Nadu ranks among top 5 states in liquor sales. The choice is ironic as well as raging, bringing short tranquility at the expense of draining money that were given as relief. On one hand, crores of rupees are spent as relief funds, and on the other the same money becomes a pipeline to the treasury.
Of late, economic activities in flood affected areas have halted. Many big and small industrial activities have received a massive blow bringing thrust of devastation to the working groups and beneficiaries. In a situation like this, the government and the policy makers have to be fully aware of the moral implications while drafting any pragmatic action plan. After all, India is a country woven of high standards of moral fabric where our sense of morality is tied with the quality of our intellect.
By Amit Sengupta

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