CHENNAI: The Supreme Court’s highway liquor ban has hit Tamil Nadu’s cash cow, TASMAC, which recorded a 15 per cent decline in annual revenue, or an estimated Rs 730 crore.
The court order in April banning the sale of alcohol within 500 metres of State and National Highways led to the reported closure of 3,300 of the 5,700 TASMAC outlets in Tamil Nadu.
Attempts to circumvent the order by denotifying highways were stayed by the Madras High Court. “Our annual income is about Rs 29,000 crore. But with many shops shut for nearly two months, we lost 15 per cent of our revenue,” a senior government official told Express.
With people protesting against the relocation of liquor shops in their neighbourhood, it is unlikely to be business as usual for the State-owned liquor trade monopoly. If these shops remain shut, the loss could be as high as Rs 4,350 crore.
This is certain to cause concerns as TASMAC generates nearly a third of the State’s revenue, a dependence that has only increased in the recent slow-growth years.
This is the latest in a series of setbacks in the recent past.
The first was demonetisation, when the corporation lost revenue of about Rs 100 crore. Tipplers stayed away after TASMAC instructed salesmen not to accept Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. The other was a policy decision of closing 500 TASMAC shops a year, fulfilling an electoral promise of phased prohibition.
This year, after closure of the shops in February, there has been a loss of about Rs 5 crore a day.