CHENNAI: They have been outlawed along the highways for contributing to road accidents, but now Southern Railways also does not want TASMAC liquor shops close to the stations and tracks.
As many as 13 stations in Chennai and its suburban areas, besides Jolarpettai in Vellore district have TASMAC outlets in close proximity. Railway Protection Force (RPF) officials told Express that they would soon be writing to the government urging to shift these shops.
“Drunk persons pose a big security threat. They cause nuisance at stations and are likely to get hit by passing trains,” said Louis Amudan, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner, RPF.
According to him, incidence of drunk people creating nuisance in stations and trains was on the rise, with 9955 cases being registered this year. “They often end up sleeping in the station premises overnight. It is difficult to remove them,” Amudan said.
Another intent behind RPF’s attempts in shifting out TASMAC shops is to prevent death on tracks. This year alone, there have been 468 run over deaths in Chennai railway division, which extends from Jolarpettai to Villupuram. Cell phone usage and drinking are major reasons for getting hit by train.
Regular commuters have called for a solution before anything serious occurs. “Poor lighting, sparse passengers and limited RPF men on patrol makes it convenient for drunk persons to create problem, especially during late evening hours,” said S Priyadarshini, 26, an IT employee, who uses the MRTS service daily. Of the 14 stations identified for shifting of TASMAC outlets, two are on the MRTS network - Mylapore and Perungudi.
At present, the punishment awarded to drunk persons for creating nuisance does not serve as a deterrent, Amudan acknowledged. As per the Railway Act, a paltry fine of around `300 is imposed on them. As an immediate measure, special RPF teams have been formed to control the undesirable elements who pose a safety risk for passengers. “They will be patrolling all stations and will remove unauthorised persons. We are also going to form special women teams for the purpose,” Amudan added.
14 stations in Chennai railway division where TASMAC shops are in close proximity