In a State where liquor revenue is one-fourth of total government revenues, the Tamil Nadu government has come up with a novel method of hitting back at an agitating opposition party -- by making the party pay up the loss in revenue in liquor sales during the agitation. The Jayalalithaa government has held the Pattali Makkal Katchi responsible for the drop in sale of liquor -- from government shops -- during the agitations organised by the party between April 30 and May 15, and asked the PMK to pay Rs. 20 crore as compensation.
Compensating for liquor revenue loss may be particularly galling for the PMK whose leader S. Ramadoss has been advocating total prohibition in Tamil Nadu.
The government claim is under provisions of a state law that allows recovery of compensation for any damage or loss caused to property during an agitation by a political party or group.
Sale of liquor is major source of revenue for the Tamil Nadu government and it generated Rs 21,680 crore in 2012-13. It is 19.91 per cent growth compared to the sale in the previous year.
The matter related to drop in liquor sold by Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) came up for hearing before T.S. Sridhar, Commissioner of Revenue Administration, on Tuesday and he posted it to August 19 for further hearing.
Hearing on a separate claim related to loss suffered by transport corporations was adjourned to August 13.
The government case is that sale of liquor in 12 districts came down in the wake of arrest of PMK founder S. Ramadoss, his son Anbumani Ramadoss, PMK president G.K. Mani and others and the violent incidents that followed.
“The employees of Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) shops could not open the shops on time and had to down shutters by 6 p.m. Transport was affected and people did not come out of their house to buy essential commodities due to tension and violent incidents such as damage to public property. This resulted in reduction of customers of TASMAC shops. Customers also temporarily stopped buying liquor bottles because of attacks on TASMAC shops,” said the senior regional manager of TASMAC in Salem district. Similar petitions were filed in respect of other districts too.
While claiming that the loss was caused between April 30 and May 15, TASMAC officials contended that the sale of liquor picked up immediately on May 16.
The PMK advocate also filed a petition seeking to drop PMK founder S. Ramadoss from all the cases. Mr Sridhar said he would deliver his order soon.