Chennai, May 7 : Serpentine queues of tipplers braving the sun were seen outside liquor outlets in several places in Tamil Nadu on Thursday morning when the shops were reopened for sales after a 45 day lockdown.
The government did not permit the opening of the shops located in Chennai.
Even though the state government had stipulated that there should be a six feet space between two persons standing in a queue, in actual practice there was hardly a half-a-foot gap.
The leader of the opposition in Tamil Nadu Assembly and DMK President M.K. Stalin wearing black shirt and trousers, held a black flag on one hand and a placard on the other stood outside his residence protesting against the government’s decision to reopen the liquor shops.
Similarly MDMK leader Vaiko wore a black shirt and shouted slogans against the government’s decision to open the liquor shops.
In Coimbatore district, a group of women gathered outside a liquor shop and demanded its closure.
Liquor retail in Tamil Nadu is a state monopoly run by the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation or popularly known as Tasmac.
On Wednesday, Tamil Nadu government announced a hike in the excise duty by 15 per cent on Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL).
As a result, the maximum retail price (MRP) of an ordinary variety of 180 ml bottle will go up by Rs 10 and that of the medium and premium varieties of IMFL increase by Rs 20 per 180 ml bottle.
There are over 5,300 Tasmac liquor outlets in the state contributing about Rs 30,000 crore of tax revenue to the state exchequer.
The revenue from the liquor bottle sales was bottled up during the lockdown period.
The Tamil Nadu government said in order to control the movement of people in the border areas with Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh as liquor shops have been opened there, the decision to open liquor shops in the state was taken.
Major opposition parties in the state have strongly criticised the government’s decision to open the liquor outlets.