CHENNAI: As the gutka taint is getting bigger each passing day, the addicts in Chennai are facing a shortage of the popular brand, MDM, the company that has been caught in the scandal after income tax raids revealed that it had paid bribes to politicians and State and Central government officials to circumvent the gutka ban.
To those who sought their usual brand, shopkeepers cautiously passed on a new product, Remo, that debuted after the popular brands went off following the ongoing uproar. In many places like Egmore, Parrys, Guindy and Tambaram, price has gone up by a rupee, while most shop owners are visibly uncomfortable with selling it to unknown faces.
“Recent raids and scarcity of the product give us no choice but to increase the price of the product,” says a roadside shopkeeper on EVR Road near Ripon Buildings, headquarters of the Greater Chennai Corporation.
Meanwhile, the activist organisation, Arrapor Iyakkam, petitioned the Chief Minister to drop Health Minister C Vijaya Basker from the Cabinet for allegedly taking bribes from gutka manufacturer MDM.
The activists attached copies of pages of a ledger seized by the income tax officials in 2016 which reveal bribes were paid to senior officers in the city police, city Corporation, Central Excise, and Food Safety officers, and even the Health minister.
Noting that the names mentioned in the ledger included senior most officials in the police department, Jayaram Venkatesan, convener of Arrapor Iyakkam, questioned how the vigilance could probe senior officers who head it. “It will be a probe under duress,” he added, demanding a CBI inquiry into the matter. The organisation questioned the government over its inaction despite a letter from the IT department highlighting the corruption reaching the former chief secretary a year ago.