Let the drinker have his drink, but not at the expense of law-abiding citizens
R Suntharalingam, Urumpirai
This letter is from Sunday Times’ Letter to the Editor’s page. The facts expressed by the correspondent are 100% true. The “bottle and can litter” is sighted every morning along the blogger’s narrow lane much to his disgust.
Permitted liquor outlets have proliferated during the last few years parallel to the illicit dens. Locations have been selected more at the behest of the licensee rather than the residential citizens or their state functionaries or the civil society. The applicants for liquor licences are so experienced and organised in this trade that they know how to get them. This is made simple by the people’s representatives being prone to be inveigled into their vortex.
To satisfy formalities, reports are prepared as to the distance between the proposed outlets and restricted areas like the schools, places of worship etc. The applicant is so powerful in the locality that the location he has earmarked to have his bar, tavern or the outlet gets legitimised and for that he obtains the signatures of the householders in the vicinity mostly on blank sheets and fills in the blank sheet with whatever is required to satisfy the requirements to obtain permission.
Cartoon added by TW from internet
Though referred to as bars, these are not pubs where the patrons sit and sip but only an outlet for selling or a person to have a quick gulp before going on his way. The drinkers or addicts go in search of places to commence their consumption especially the schoolboys and young workers who cannot take them home. When they use the unoccupied premises or unfrequented lanes, the nearest compound is the garbage bin for them. Used items in lanes or roadsides get collected by those who collect them for resale or recycling but not from the private premises. Almost all the houses in the vicinity of bars undergo this health hazard of used bottles and cans. For the drinkers it is good riddance of bad rubbish but for the residents it means unwelcome litter and breeding receptacles for the fearsome dengue. The unfortunate part is the preventive health authorities find fault with residents without stopping this menace at the base.
They can easily have the outlets relocated far away from schools and places of worships. These outlets are an eyesore to anyone who sees the unruly behaviour of half drunken carriers of bottles hovering around and struggling to move on to reach the other half.
A very few outlets should be converted into pubs or toddy taverns at least with seating accommodation and facilities for disposal of used cans and bottles there itself.
One of the most profitable businesses now is the liquor trade. The long vehicles plying on the carpeted highways are carrying more of liquor than other requirements of the people. Even the President has openly declared that the revenue contribution from the North from the liquor trade is a record for the country.
Total banning of liquor or to close down the outlets or limit their opening hours will be an exercise in futility where the loopholes, the ruses etc are legion. A total ban is more dangerous for the despicable evil brew known as Kasippu will rear its ugly head and dominate with deadly results.
The state earns a lot. Most of the people appear to enjoy their occasional or vocational drink. Only a minority like us eschew the brew. Why not locate these outlets in remote areas where the access to the watering holes for the inveterate drinker may not be a problem and the menace gets confined to a corner. In those outlets let there be facilities for the drinkers to sit and sip and have something to bite to go with it. This will prevent them from using the compounds; the lanes, even school premises as their garbage bins. They appear to spare the places of worship not that they are pious but that there is a lurking fear of divine punishment which of course is not there. For them social sanction or the fear of law does not exist. They behave as antisocial elements with little or no regard for the residents, schools, public institutions and the access lanes and by-roads.
It is high time the state authorities issued fresh licences. It is important to stress that Temperance is like the Utopian dream. Let us be practical. People drink, let the state get its revenue , let the drinker have his drink but let him not inconvenience the law abiding citizens whose welfare should not be sacrificed at the altar of the innumerable evil practices which rule the roost. Let them all be reminded that one’s freedom ends where another man’s nose begins. Most noses can’t bear the stench associated with liquor.