PALAKKAD: Even as the debate of opening and closing the bars in the State rages, one of the ‘restricted’ areas -Attappadi- has not seen any meaningful reduction in liquor consumption as ‘duplicate’ IMFL is profusely available.
A few arrack brewing centres have also come up in the interiors. “The duplicates of the IMFL are chiefly brought from Coimbatore and unloaded on the border at Aanakatti. It is also brought from Mannarkad area in the state. More than a dozen resorts that have sprung up in recent years have also added the supply,” said secretary of the Attappadi Samrakashana Samithi, M Sukumaran.
Since new toddy shops have been banned in Attapadi, illegal arrack brewing has also doubled or tripled, he said.In addition, a beverage outlet has been set up by Tamil Nadu government at Aanakatti, which is just a stone throw away from the border.
“People from Attappadi would just walk across the border and consume it. However, brewing in the ‘oorus’ have apparently come down”, said Ramu, convener of Thampu, a voluntary organisation in Attappadi.
After the incident of a “mass death of infants due to malnutrition,” a package was formed for the welfare of the people. Two Excise stations including a Janamaithri station were opened in Agali range as part of the package. “Toddy shops in Attappadi were closed in 1999. And as bars were also closed the village was made a ‘restricted area’.
“However, a Central government guideline invoked at the time stipulated that while liquor from outside was restricted in tribal areas, tribals should be allowed to have their traditional brew, said Jayanthi Vasan, assistant Commissioner of Excise. The Janamaithri station, however, with a 15 personnel and a jeep constantly conducted awareness camps and raids leading to the busting of traditional illicit brewers, said Vasan, adding that a campaign outside propagating Attappadi was totally a prohibited zone was untrue.
Meanwhile, the de-addiction centre announced for Attappadi following malnutrition deaths is yet to come up although Minister K Babu had announced in the Assembly in last October that a sum of `25 lakh had been allotted to set up the de-addiction centre.
The Health Department had also presented before the government a detailed project report for the de-addiction centre, proposing admission facilities for 15 patients. Posts for psychologists, doctors, nurses and other paramedic staff were also proposed.
However, as the din of the malnutrition deaths subsided, the de-addiction centre, which was to be attached to the Kottathara tribal speciality hospital, had also been put on the backburner.