Tag Archives: Tamil Nadu

59 dead in Tamil Nadu hooch tragedy

At least 59 people have died so far and another 156 persons have been hospitalised after consuming illicit liquor in Tamil Nadu’s Kallakurichi district. As per reports, illicit liquor called ‘packet arrack’ was consumed by these people.

The police said bootleggers were selling ‘packet arrack’ and they have been arrested on charges of selling illicit arrack. The Police also seized over 200 litres of ‘packet arrack’. Samples tested at a forensic laboratory in Villupuram were found to have the poisonous methanol. Several people from Kallakurichi and neighbouring areas had consumed illicit arrack sold by bootleggers at Karunapuram. On reaching home, most of them complained of giddiness, headache, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain and irritation in the eyes. They were admitted to hospitals in  Kallakurichi, Villupuram, Salem and Puducherry.

Meanwhile, the DMK government headed by Chief Minister, M.K.Stalin has shunted out the District Collector and suspended the Superintendent of Police. The government has ordered a probe by the CB-CID of Tamil Nadu police under the charge of Superintendent of Police Shantharam.  As per government reports,  seven people including a bootlegger by name K.Govindaraj alias Kannukutti, have been arrested.

The Tamil Nadu government has also announced a judicial inquiry headed by retired judge of Madras high court, Justice B Gokuldas. The National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to the Tamil Nadu Government and the Director General of Police seeking a full report on the tragedy.

Not satisfied with this, the AIADMK has demanded an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and its legislators in the Tamil Nadu Assembly have disturbed the proceedings in Assembly, leading to the Speaker suspending them for a day.  

The Madras High Court also had pulled up the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-led Tamil Nadu government over the tragedy, citing similar incidents in Villupuram and Chengalpattu districts last year. The court demanded to know why such instances were repeatedly occurring in the state. A Division Bench of Justices D Krishnakumar and K Kumaresh Babu was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the AIADMK legal wing secretary I S Inbadurai. In his petition, he sought a CBI probe.

The Chief minister MK Stalin who has held several meetings with officials has expressed pain and shock and has announced Rs. 10 lakh as ex gratia to the next of kin, while those hospitalised will receive Rs. 5000. The government will also take care of the educational expenses and hostel fees of the children until the age of 18 of those who have lost either one or both parents in the Kallakurichi hooch tragedy.

Court orders closure of two Tasmac outlets

Meanwhile, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court ordered the immediate closure of two Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (Tasmac) outlets on Boothipuram Road near Palanichettipatti. It directed the Theni collector to inquire into the allegation of authorities failing to control the illegal sale of liquor.

A division Bench of Justices R Suresh Kumar and G Arul Murugan, while hearing the PIL petition filed by U Aajik Arabukani from Palanichettipatti, directed the Tasmac manager and the Theni Superintendent of Police to assist the collector in the inquiry and file a report.

The court said that the documents and electronic evidence produced by the petitioner disclosed several irregularities in the functioning of Tasmac shop numbers 8576 and 8516. The court observed that a “cartel” arrangement seems to be going on between the supervisors, staff at the Tasmac shops, bar owners and others in the locality. In spite of filing 17 FIRs with the Palanichettipatti police, no effective action has been taken by Tasmac authorities or the police, which is the reason behind the agony of the residents, observed the court.

The court reprimanded the counsel, who appeared for the Tasmac district manager, one of the respondents in the case, for seeking more time to inquire into the matter. “It is not an isolated incident as it has been going on for the last few months. The first FIR had been registered on January 7, 2024, and 17 FIRs have been registered since then. The manager cannot make lame excuses.” Meanwhile, the state-run liquor retailer Tasmac said 500 retail shops selling alcoholic beverages will be closed down in Tamil Nadu, implementing a Government Order (GO) issued earlier for their closure. Out of the 5,329 retail liquor outlets across the state (as on March 31, 2023), 500 shops would be identified and closed down.

Tamil Nadu Increases Liquor Prices

The Tamil Nadu government has increased excise duty on alcohol. Accordingly, the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) has increased liquor prices from February 1, 2024. The corporation said the price of 180 ml of regular and medium-quality liquor has been increased by ₹10; premium quality liquor by ₹20 and 650ml beer by ₹10.

Tamil Nadu has been earning sizable revenues from liquor sales. In the previous financial year (2022- 23) the revenues were ₹44,098.56 crore, up from ₹36,050 crore in 2021-22. During 2022-2023, the revenue earned by the government through special fee on imported foreign liquor was ₹44.79 crore and the revenue earned by TASMAC from service charge alone was ₹12.23 lakh.

Planning to shut 500 shops

The previous Tamil Nadu Minister for Prohibition and Excise V Senthil Balaji, during the demands for grants for his department in the Assembly last year said that of the total 5,329 retail liquor shops run by TASMAC, the government has decided to shut down 500 shops this year.

Dysfunctional automatic vending machines

While wanting to shut some shops, TASMAC last year introduced automatic liquor dispensing machines in five places in Chennai, to help curb some TASMAC outlets overcharging customers. Automatic vending machines were introduced on a pilot basis, charging as per MRP. However, tipplers in Chennai were dejected as the machines either were empty or dysfunctional. In April last, vending machines were installed in imported liquor shops located in five malls in the city – VR Mall in Anna Nagar, Phoenix Market City in Velachery, Forum Vijaya Mall in Vadapalani, Express Avenue in Royapettah, Ampa Skywalk in Aminjikarai.

Exploring 90ml tetra packs

Similarly, the government is exploring the possibility of opening TASMAC outlets early after requests from workers who wanted them open between 7 am and 9 pm. The current timings are from noon to 10 pm. The Minister for Excise and Prohibition, S. Muthusamy has mentioned that TASMAC is also exploring introducing 90 ml tetra packs. The Minister said the decision to sell liquor in cartons as opposed to glass bottles was being taken because glass bottles are thrown on streets and farmlands, causing an inconvenience. He said that “to prevent this, the government is planning to introduce 90 ml tetra packs as they can be used just once. We studied how it is done in other states.”

Tasmac is a state-run company, which oversees wholesale and retail sales of alcoholic beverages in Tamil Nadu. It was established in 1983 by the then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister late M.G. Ramachandran. It is incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 on May 23, 1983.

TASMAC is vested with the exclusive privilege of wholesale supply of IMFL for the whole State of Tamil Nadu as per Section 17 (C) (1-A) (a) of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition Act, 1937 (Tamil Nadu Act X of 1937). It has taken over the wholesale distribution of Indian Made Foreign Liquor from the Private Sector in the whole state of Tamil Nadu during May 1983. The exclusive privilege of Retail Vending of IMFS was granted to TASMAC under Sec.17 (C) (1-B) of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition Act, 1937. TASMAC is doing the retail business also successfully with effect from 29.11.2003.

TASMAC procures IMFS and beer stocks locally from 11 IMFS manufacturers and 7 Beer manufacturers in the State. It also procures wine locally from one manufacturer. It also procures Scotch, whisky and few wine brands from other states. TASMAC also engages in retail sale of Foreign Liquor.

Distribution of IMFS and beer items to the licensees are being done through the 43 depots of TASMAC located throughout the State. The distilleries are – Enrica Enterprises, Chennai; Mohan Breweries & Distilleries, Chennai; Shiva Distilleries, Coimbatore; Empee Distilleries, Kancheepuram; Southern Agrifurane industries, Villupuram; Midas Golden Distilleries, Kancheepuram; Accord Breweries and Distilleries, Kancheepuram; SNJ Distilleries, Madurantagam; Kals Distilleries, Pudukottai; Golden Vats, Tiruvarur; and Kals Beverages, Coimbatore.

The breweries supplying are – United Breweries, Thiruvallur; Mohan Breweries, Chennai; United Breweries, Thiruvallur; SNJ Breweries, Madurantagam; Kals Breweries, Pudukkottai; Apollo Distilleries, Thiruvallur; and Accord Breweries, Kancheepuram.

– R. Chandrakanth

In Landmark Change – Tamil Nadu Govt allows serving alcohol at Stadiums, Conferences, Events & Celebrations

The Tamil Nadu DMK government has issued a notification dated March 18, 2023 amending the Tamil Nadu Liquor (Licence and Permit) Rules of 1981 to allow the serving of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and Imported Foreign Liquor to guests, visitors and participants, at international and national summits and events like conferences, celebrations and festivals.

According to the amendment, a special licence would be granted annually by the Deputy Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner of the Excise Department to supply liquor in commercial premises like conference halls, convention centres, marriage halls, banquet halls, and sports stadiums. However, on April 24th, 2023 the Tamil Nadu government amended and removed marriage halls and banquet halls from the list of commercial premises where liquor was allowed to be supplied.  

As per the amendment, the special license for possession and supply of liquor can be obtained by paying an annual registration fee of Rs. One lakh in corporation limits, Rs. 75,000 in municipality limits and Rs. 50,000 in other places. Subsequently, the fee per day for issue of permit for conducting one event, whenever conducted, is Rs. 11,000 in corporation limits, Rs. 7,500 in municipalities and Rs. 5,000 in other places respectively.

The amendment also said that special license for one time possession and supply of liquor in non-commercial premises during conduct of household celebrations, functions, parties etc is Rs. 11,000, Rs. 7,500 and Rs. 5,000 in corporations, municipalities and other places respectively.

The new rules state that the licensee shall obtain supplies from the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation Limited (TASMAC) wholesale depot nearest to the place of events or from such other source as the Deputy Commissioner / Assistant Commissioner (Excise) may appoint or approve, subject to such conditions as he or she may stipulate and as per the quantity of the supplies approved by them. All such applications have to be made online, prior to seven working days from the date of conduct of the event to the Deputy Commissioner / Assistant Commissioner (Excise) in the districts in Form F.A.1.14, along with a copy of the challan of the fee remitted. Then these designated officers will grant a license in Form FL-12 with prior approval of the District Collector.

The issue of liquor under FL-12 special license may be in pegs / bottles for consumption, the Amendment said.

As per the amendment, the licensee has to transport the liquor after obtaining the transport permit in form FTP . 1 from the Deputy Commissioner  / Assistant Commissioner (Excise) of the concerned district. The transport from the source of supply to the licensed premises shall be in accordance with the provisions of these rules.  However, the amendment does not mention any fee for obtaining transport permit.

Further it said that a no-objection certificate from the Commissioner of Police, for events held within corporation limits and from the Superintendent of Police for events held in districts, should be obtained.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Electricity, Prohibition, and Excise V Senthil Balaji announced in the Tamil Nadu Assembly that the government would be deciding on the closure of 500 liquor shops across the state within this year. He mentioned that 96 shops run by TASMAC had violated norms. There are 5,329 retail liquor shops run by TASMAC.

“We are following the norms that other states are following. The IPL management had sought permission to serve liquor in the stadiums during the matches. Considering such international sports and events, we have decided to grant permission,” the minister said.

Opposition Condemns Move

Opposition parties condemned the move of allowing special liquor permits. The Tamil Nadu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President K Annamalai said in a statement that this was an effort to increase the income of distilleries run by DMK leaders. “The DMK came to power by giving assurances that it would close liquor factories and retail shops, but Tasmac is trying to boost the sale of liquor each year by fixing a ceiling limit without bothering about the people. This move will lead to social disorder.”

Around the same time, the Pattali Makkal Katchi filed a public interest litigation at the Madras High Court and the spokesman of the party, Advocate K Balu, termed the move “highly condemnable”. He said the G.O. amending Tamil Nadu Liquor (Licence and Permit) Rules 1981 is illegal, unjust and against the public interest.

“The FL 12 special licence for serving liquor at conference halls, convention centres, marriage halls, banquet halls and sports stadium is contrary to the 2017 guidelines issued by Supreme Court to protect the life of citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution,” he said. Serving liquor in public event venues would cause nuisance to the public and deprive them of their right to peaceful life, the petition said.

AIADMK general secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami tweeted “The same DMK government, which says prohibition is the only goal, has kept liquor shops open for 12 hours. Now, it has allowed liquor in marriage halls and sports stadiums.” 

DMK’s allies, MDMK general secretary Vaiko and CPM state secretary K Balakrishnan also urged the government to abandon the move. Other parties, including PMK, TMC(M), AMMK and VK Sasikala have condemned the notification.

KALS launches Asio Vodka

With the vodka market on the upturn, KALS has launched their new Indian Made Vodka, Asio Vodka in the Tamil Nadu market. The vodka is triple distilled from a blend of different grains and filtered one time through seven columns of environmentally sustainable charcoal for a pure tasting smooth spirit.

The bottle is available in three sizes, that is the standard 750 ml, 375ml and the 180 ml. The ideology behind Asio was unique and KALS wanted to create something that provides a great experience to the consumer. In order to create that experience, they created a story that revolves around India. KALS states that no spirit brand truly embodies the spirit of India – and building this story right was their goal.

The company also hosted curated experiences for the consumers in small batches to sample the product. The taste and experience were then adapted to suit the consumer’s palate, whilst retaining the essence of the brand. KALS says that it has been receiving a great response so far. Currently Asio is available in the TN market and there are plans to make it available pan India soon.

The company is looking to develop more sustainable and lucrative brands moving forward. Together with the Brand Union they’ve embarked on a rebrand strategy to transform their products for the next generation of KALS fans. And the strategy with Asio is also similar to that of the other products, which is to ensure market penetration, increase sales of existing products or services on existing markets, and thus to increase our market share. This combined with market development, product development and diversification are part of the key growth strategies for Asio and KALS.