Govt spends ₹2 on healthcare for every rupee earned through sale of liquor, say judges
Observing that a study had found that the State government loses more than ₹2 on providing healthcare for every Rs.1 earned by it through sale of liquor, the Madras High Court has made a fervent appeal to the government to implement prohibition in the State in a phased manner “to wipe out the tears of women and children.”
Justices N. Kirubakaran and B. Pugalendhi wrote: “Though it is a difficult task, still every endeavour has to be made to discourage the people to drink and appeal to the government to stop selling liquor. Therefore, this court appeals to the State Government to bring prohibition in the State in a phased manner.”
The Bench went on to state that total prohibition was not an appeal made just by the court, it was also the collective demand of housewives, children and the entire society. If prohibition was brought in, definitely commission of criminal offences would decrease, an individual’s income would increase, drunkards would become healthy and drunken driving would not be there.
“Society would be more peaceful and the dream of the father of the nation would be realised. Will the Government listen to this court?” the Division Bench asked before concluding it’s order on a plea to shift a State-run liquor shop located close to a government higher secondary school in Madurai.
After recording the submission of Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation, the sole authority for wholesale and retail sale of liquor in the State, that the liquor shop would be shifted, the judges said it was a matter of serious concern that numerous writ petitions were being filed in the court to shift liquor shops situated close to educational institutions, residential localities and places of worship.
“Liquor outlet is neither a book stall not a grocery shop to be located near a school or a residential area,” the judges said and lamented that the government never minds flooding the State with liquor as long as revenue flows steadily from the booze.
About 5,300 liquor retail outlets easily earn about ₹30,000 crore to the State government every year. The average revenue was ₹70 crore on normal days, ₹90 to ₹100 crore during weekends and ₹110 to ₹120 crore during festival days, the Bench said and pointed out that TASMAC earned a whopping amount of ₹465.79 crore in just two days during Deepavali in November 2020.
Further stating that Tamil Nadu was the largest consumer of liquor in the country with 13% of national sales being recorded here, the court said: “Whether water flows in rivers of the State or not, this special water (liquor) flows in every nook and corner of the State and it flows even near places of worship, schools, colleges etc.”
Referring to a study conducted by National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) a few years ago regarding the expenses incurred by the government on healthcare as against revenue earned through sale of liquor, the judges said the sad fact was that though the government earns an annual revenue of ₹30,000 crore from sale of alcohol, it ends up spending ₹90,000 crore on healthcare.