NELLORE: High tension prevailed at the Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu border on Monday as people from Tamil Nadu flocked to wine shops in Andhra Pradesh where liquor shops have been permitted to open. A mad rush was witnessed at wine shops in the border villages of BV Palem and Rampuram in Nellore district with booze lovers from the neighbouring state making a beeline to them.
As part of its easing of lockdown restrictions, the Andhra Pradesh government has allowed liquor stores across the state to open after 40 days but with some conditions. The Tamil Nadu government is yet to take a call on this issue and that has become the reason for the near-stampede situation inside Andhra borders on Monday. With people from both Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu looking to pocket their favourite brands of liquor, for the first time in 40 days, serpentine queues were witnessed at these liquor shops. And what’s worse, lockdown rules like social distancing became the biggest casualty as no one seemed to care for them in their desperation to get hold of booze bottles.
According to the guidelines issued by the AP state government, only five people are allowed at a time at the liquor shop and all of them have to maintain a distance of 6 feet. They need to stand inside the circles drawn in front of all the liquor shops. Wine shops were permitted to operate from morning 11 am to 7 pm.
But in contrast to the guidelines of the state government, people from Tamil Nadu rushed to the wine shops in huge numbers and violated Andhra Pradesh government’s guidelines. Seeing the situation seemingly going out of control, the AP police forced the closure of the wine shops in the two villages in a bid to bring normalcy back.
Meanwhile, defending the state government’s decision to hike the liquor prices by 25 per cent in Andhra Pradesh, excise department secretary Rajat Bhargava said that the state government’s move was actually intended at discouraging alcohol consumption and gradually bring down the sales of liquor in the state. He said that Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy had taken the decision in the larger interest of people’s health and well-being. Chief Minister YS Jagan who had vowed to implement liquor prohibition in a phased manner, has already taken a series of measures towards this end.
The liquor sale has been controlled in the state and the number of shops is being reduced considerably. Prices are also being increased with a view to making it unaffordable for the common man and thus preventing his family from being ruined by this vice.