The new deadline for moving shops along national highways is August 15

The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (Tasmac) time till August 15 to shift its liquor outlets located on national highways.

This spells relief to some of the outlets functioning on the margins of Grand Southern Trunk (NH 45), from Chennai to Dindigul, passing through the city’s southern suburbs.

The Madras High Court, acting on a Public Interest Litigation, had set March 31 as the deadline for shifting all liquor outlets of Tasmac located along national highways.

A plea from Tasmac for extension of the deadline was rejected by the High Court, forcing the Corporation to rush to the Supreme Court. There are nearly a dozen shops on GST Road between Pallavaram and Tambaram. During the past one month, a few shops continued to function as usual.

However, following the High Court order in March, the shops promptly removed the Tasmac boards indicating the presence of a liquor outlet.

One shop in Chromepet, not very far from the police station, installed a huge partition around the complex out of which it was functioning.

Staff at the Kancheepuram district unit of Tasmac were not willing to divulge information about the status of the shops operating despite the High Court order.

Residents wondered if the short shrift given to the government outlets would be extended to tax-payers or even smaller commercial establishments. “For the past one month, they seemed to be functioning discreetly, by trying to hide, while it was businessas usual,” said V. Sethu, a pavement vendor near Tambaram Sanatorium railway station.

To bend the rules, an outlet in West Tambaram had blocked the entrance leading to the shop from GST Road and opened an access route from a by-lane, pointed out S. Kishore of Ranganathapuram.

According topolicemen on duty on Monday, all the liquor outlets and the bars attached to them functioned as usual, but with the boards outside removed.

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