VELLORE/CHENNAI: A serpentine queue, barricades placed to prevent stampede, cops ensuring men follow the line to the counter; this scene isn’t outside a theatre or a ration shop, but at the only liquor shop in Vellore that remained open on Sunday. The Supreme Court’s order banning sale of liquor close to highways hit Vellore the hardest, as 31 of the 32 outlets in the town, with nearly 7.5 lakh people, downed shutters.
The situation wasn’t any better for tipplers across other parts of the State. According to sources, nearly 50 to 80 per cent of liquor shops have been shut across the State after the Supreme Court order. “A total of 3,300 of the 5,700 Tasmac outlets have been closed,” says N Periyasamy, president of the Tasmac employees’ union.
“We have been asked to identify a place to relocate,” he says, adding that it would be a challenging task, as residents of these areas are likely to oppose the move.
“I did not expect this. I just wanted to have a drink at the bar in my hotel. But they aren’t serving any,” says an NRI from Malaysia staying at the Hablis, a star hotel in Chennai. The hotel’s bar - Moon and Six Pence - one of the city’s popular watering holes, was also shut after the SC order.
“We were asked to close the bar on Saturday. We haven’t gotten any notice about our jobs so far,” said an employee at Hablis who didn’t want to be named. As the bars remain shut, food too is not being served in these places. The employees of these bars have been temporarily asked to help with other restaurants in the hotel.
A few high-end bars attached to hotels, however, continued to serve liquor on Sunday. A staff at a bar located on the East Coast Road said the number of customers have plummeted to a fifth, despite being open.
Putting the happiness of travelling tipplers ahead, some states have already begun measures to bypass the verdict. According to reports, BJP-ruled Maharashtra is trying to denotify its State highways in Mumbai, Pune and other cities to circumvent the ruling.