Tamil Nadu

Minister defends decision to reopen liquor shops

There was a heated argument in the Assembly on Tuesday over the government’s decision to reopen Tasmac-run liquor shops in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

V. Senthilbalaji, Minister for Electricity, Prohibition and Excise, said the shops had been reopened only in districts where the COVID-19 infection rate was low.

When S. Ravi (AIADMK) wondered how the government could open liquor shops since Chief Minister M.K. Stalin and other DMK leaders organised black flag protests against it when the AIADMK was in power, Mr. Senthilbalaji said the shops remained closed in districts where the infection rate was high.

He said States such as Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Puducherry had reopened shops, and liquor was being smuggled into Tamil Nadu from Karnataka in vehicles carrying vegetables.

“A bottle that costs ₹150 is being sold for ₹1,000. We want to prevent the smuggling of liquor and the Chief Minister is particular that illicit brewing should not be allowed to raise its head,” Mr. Senthilbalaji said.

He said the AIADMK government opened liquour shops, but closed them following a direction from the Madras High Court.

Former Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition Edappadi K. Palaniswami argued that the DMK organised protests against the opening of liquor shops even though the highest rate of infection recorded during the AIADMK regime was 7,000 cases.

Ma. Subramanian, Minister for Medical and Family Welfare, pointed out that the figure had reached over 26,000 during the AIADMK rule. To this, Mr. Palaniswami said the Election Commission had announced election on February 26 and the model code of conduct came into force on the same day. “But on the day the election was announced, just 480 cases were recorded,” he said.

Mr. Palaniswami said he had written to the Election Commission, seeking permission to hold meetings with District Collectors to chalk out steps to control the disease, and the Election Commission asked the Chief Secretary to convene the meeting. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Tamil Nadu for its effective measures to control the spread,” he said.

Duraimurugan, Leader of the House, said a new powerful variant was responsible for the second wave of the pandemic.

RT-PCR test results

When Mr. Ravi complained that it took more than 24 hours to get results of the RT-PCR test, Mr. Subramanian said there was a delay when the infection rate was high and now the results were available in 24 hours.

Mr. Subramanian made it clear that it was impossible to give compensation to all those who died of COVID-19.

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 10:22:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/minister-defends-decision-to-reopen-liquor-shops/article34919608.ece

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