How a village in Ramanathapuram has become an alcohol and tobacco-free zone

The villagers took a resolution to give up the sale and consumption of the addictives and have been following it for more than six months now.
The village free of tobacco and alcohol in Ramanathapuram district
The village free of tobacco and alcohol in Ramanathapuram district
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Anandhi (name changed), a resident of Yadava colony at Kadaladi in Tamil Nadu’s Ramanathapuram district, has endured endless fights with her husband over his drinking and smoking habits. Her husband used to drink every day and the savings of the family was soon draining. Today, however, things have changed for the better, says Anandhi, not just for her but for the entire village of 500 families, and she thanks a resolution made by the women and the youth in the village.

About six months ago, the women and youngster groups of the village prompted the panchayat to take the decision to give up the sale and consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other addictives. The shop owners selling cigarettes and beedis were only happy about the decision of the panchayat. 

From the time of taking the resolution, the members of the village have been meticulously following it and the youngsters are also monitoring and ensuring there are no illegal activities in Kadaladi. Even the few people who followed the routine of having liquor every day are hailing the decision, as they say, that they are seeing a positive difference in their lives.

“I was earning Rs 200 by axing the woods for cooking and through Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). Farming did not give us any good profit. So we had to find alternative livelihoods and were living with the little money we had. However, my husband used to spend the whole money on drinking and smoking. There will be endless arguments on the expenditure. That was when the village made the resolution to put an end to use of any addictives in the village,” said the 24-year-old Anandhi.  

“Now, I am happy because we do not have an argument over alcohol consumption and we are saving money for our two children,” she said.

For Renuka, who runs a small shop in Kadaladi, no sale of cigarettes of beedis translates into only a negligible loss. “But that is fine for us because we are happy that we do not have to sell them anymore. We are confident that our children will now grow without the influence of these addictive products. Earlier, we used to be scared if children will pick up this habit from the men in the village,” she told TNM.

How the village implements this

Ramesh, a 32-year-old resident of Kadaladi and a member of the youth committee that monitors the activities in the village, said “The women and youngsters fora of the village organise a yearly meet to bring about a change in the village. This year, we thought that bringing a resolution to end the consumption and sale of alcohol, liquor and other addictives will be ideal and is the need of the hour.”

“Following this, we made a request to the village panchayat leaders and a consolidated resolution was taken to end the use of all the addictives. The villagers promised that they would not have liquor or addictives hereafter,” he said. 

But it is one thing to verbally agree not to consume alcohol or smoke cigarettes and another thing to put it into action. And so, the youngsters put in place certain strict measures. 

The panchayat has fixed a fine of Rs 5,000 for selling the banned products in the village. They also monitor the villagers and ensure that no one brings liquor or such substances into the village using CCTV cameras.

“We will monitor the villagers using more than 15 CCTV cameras in the village. No one has brought liquor into the village till now. The villagers have taken this as a promise,” Ramesh said.

The women and the families are benefitting more by the decision, he said. “The men do not go out of the village to purchase liquor since the town is 10 kilometres away from here. So alcohol abuse by men has reduced and the families are able to save money,” said Ramesh.

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