Over 100 residents of Lakshmipuram in Tiruvallur district were seated on the ground near a TASMAC in their village on Sunday. The group consisting of more women then men, were not there to buy liquor. They were protesting outside the sole liquor shop in their village because in the two days following the Supreme Court ban, this particular shop had become a hotspot for tipplers from Ponneri town which is 3km away.
According to media reports, nearly 50 to 80% of liquor shops have been shut across the State after the Supreme Court order.
The Apex court banned the sale of liquor within a 500m radius of state and national highways from April 1. This has reportedly led to serpentine queues and stampede-like situation in some outlets in the state, forcing police to intervene and manage the crowd. With outlets in Ponneri allegedly shut down, the residents of Lakshmipuram saw a surge in the number of customers at the local outlet, which is situated near a school and a temple.
"Usually there are four of five people there and so it is manageable. But now hundreds began thronging to the shop. How will children even go to school safely with these drunk men blocking the road?" asks Satish, a resident. "People are scared to even come out of the house after 7pm to go to the temple. So we were forced to protest against opening the outlet," he claims.
According to residents, visitors to the outlet park their vehicles on both sides of the road, making it difficult for buses to ply. In addition to this, they start drinking in the 3km stretch between Ponneri and Lakshmipuram, making it unpleasant for those living there.
"There are close to 40 houses in that stretch and we have had enough. Even the Revenue Divisional officer came and visited but we said we won't allow the shop to open," says Satish.
While this group of villagers may have been successful in their efforts, across the state, there have been several hiccups following the implementation of the ban. Media reports suggest that the ban has left guests in top hotels stumped, even as the average resident scours his area for liquor outlets that remain open.