VILLUPURAM: A growing, well-established collusion between local village heads and illicit liquor brewers has surfaced in the Kalvarayan Hills, if social activists are to be believed.
Of late, the village chiefs have stopped being secret informers (as they once were) of the police as the brewers allegedly bribe the village chiefs by giving them livestock or hard cash running to lakhs of rupees to keep the illegal, clandestine activity under wraps.
The forest area in the Hills has been a haven for illicit liquor-brewers as the area gets enormous amount of water for making the brew.
Moreover, the dense forest helps the brewers escape from the police or forest department officials, who get wind of the illegal activities and hit the trail. Though, both the police and forest department officials seized illicit brew and fermented wash, rarely are the brewers caught.
A source from Kalvarayan Hills said the liquor- makers were now using a new technique to escape from the police and forest officials. Nowadays, they have the support of the village heads and some of the other villagers, too, as the brewers give them money to silence them.
The source further said that local heads in villages like Chinnathirupati, Arampoondi, Sethur, Vaaram, Vandagapaadi, Narayanampatti, Kodaimaathi, Uppur, Kurumbalur, Vanjikuzhi, Annaimadavu and Kannur have by accepting money encouraged the brewers and the brewing takes place in the forest areas near the villages.
Everything has been taking place with the support of local villagers in return of between `5 lakh and `13 lakh according to the profit they gain in a village. Villagers received pigs and goats as compliments from the liquor-makers.
There was a time when the police depended on the villagers, who act as informers for them and communicate the movement of the ale-makers and sellers in the villages. The brewers mainly concentrate on those people, who accept bribes from them and they run their business without any problem.
Apart from the sale in Kalvarayan Hills, ale was also smuggled to Chinna Salem, Kallakuruchi, Sankarapuram and also to nearby districts like Salem, Cuddalore, Tiruvannamalai and Perambalur as vehicle-checks were not that tight except on the borders of Puducherry. The source alleged that some policemen, too, have strong connections with the ale-makers and alert them during raids and they get bribe from them regularly.
When asked about this, police officials said they have not yet got any information regarding the liquor auction or money given to village heads. However, the police said they were planning to inquire into the issue and take action. They planned to tightened the surveillance and vehicle-check in Kalvarayan Hills.
The officials said there were no complaints of policemen being hand-in-glove with the brewers and said they have seized thousands of litres of illicit liquor in the past; even in the recent raids, over 1,000 litres of fermented wash, buried in the forest area, were seized and destroyed.
Social activists expect the district superintendent of police Narendran Nayar to take action on the issue and stop the movement of illicit liquor.