Chennai: The Tamil Nadu government, which
relies heavily on revenue from liquor sales which has touched
around Rs 15,000 crore, on Thursday ruled out introducing
Prohibition, saying it would not only benefit individuals, but
also anti-social elements.
"The Chief Minister (J Jayalalithaa) is well aware of the
problems relating to consumption of alcohol. But if
Prohibition is implemented, the Rs 15,000 crore revenue will
reach the hands of anti-social elements," Minister for
Prohibition and Excise, R Viswanathan, said.
Replying to the debate in the Assembly on the grants for
his department, he said none of the neighbouring states of
Tamil Nadu had Prohibition regime and suggested Centre could
implement nation-wide Prohibition, and that too after
compensating the states for the revenue loss.
By not implementing Prohibition, with liquor sales
nationalised in the State, the government had ensured that the
revenue that could be earned by anti-social elements,
apparently the illicit liquor lobby, was being diverted to the
State coffers, Viswanathan said.
Chief Minister Jayalalalithaa herself took a dig on the
demand for Prohibition in the State, saying those who were
doing so were involved in selling illicit liquor.
In 2010-11, liquor sales in Tamil Nadu and the tax on that
had earned the State a revenue of around Rs 14,965 crore,
making it a major revenue grosser.
The Jayalalithaa government had in 2003 nationalised sale
of alcohol and entrusted the task to the state-run Tamil Nadu
State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) which now runs over 6,500
Viswanathan also announced new initiatives for his
department for the year 2011-12, including the increase in the
number of dry days in the State, when the sale of liquor is
banned, from five days to eight. Viswanathan said the
Independence Day, Republic Day and May Day have been added to
the list of dry days.
Presently, dry days in Tamil Nadu include Tiruvallur Day,
Gandhi Jayanti, Meelad-un-Nabi, Mahaveer Jayanti and the death
anniversary of Vallalar, a Tamil saint.