Staff Reporter

PERNAMBUT: Arrack brewing is rampant at Pernambut in Vellore district.

The police have failed to crack the whip, except for some mild action at the time of elections.

The police and the district administration formed `arrack awareness teams' in all villages, but the effort did not bear fruit. Even if the police book cases, the brewers are left free owing to political interference.

Residents say arrack brewed at Kottaicheri, the Sadgar hills, the Sokkarishikuppam hills and the Ottaiyur hills was sold at Pernambut, Gudiyatham and Ambur. It was also transported to Chennai by lorries. Daily wagers from Gudiyatham travel 10 km to Kottaicheri and the Sokkarishikuppam hills to have arrack.

One of the reasons cited for the free flow of arrack is that the raw materials are available in abundance. It has also become a family trade, and the people involved in it have no alternative jobs. Pernambut has no industries, except tanneries and shoe manufacturing units. So job opportunities are minimal.

Residents say the brewers have a good information network: whenever, the police plan a raid, the brewers come to know about it in advance and shift their base to the Aravatala hills bordering Andhra Pradesh. The raids are just eyewash, as only three-four cases are booked every year, and those booked are released immediately, the people say.