When we first moved to Kasturba Nagar in Adyar in 2003, the builders of our apartment told us that a few shops located near the apartment complex, including a wine shop, would be demolished shortly as they had been functioning illegally. But two decades have passed, and the wine shop remains in business, continuing to pose all sorts of trouble for residents. The wine shop, which was called Lakshmi Wines, is now an authorised TASMAC outlet bearing the number 953.
Over the past few years, residents have made multiple attempts to have the shop shut down or moved as it is increasingly contributing to making the neighbourhood unsafe. But so far, our complaints have fallen on deaf ears.
Issues faced by residents due to the presence of TASMAC shop
The problems faced by residents due to the presence of the TASMAC shop are plenty.
The shop is located on a busy junction connecting Canal Bank Road, Sardar Patel Road and 1st Main Road. The shop also houses an unauthorised bar.
The traffic in the area is heavy and is made worse by the presence of the TASMAC shop. The patrons of the shop park haphazardly, obstructing other vehicles and impeding their movement. They also take over the footpath, making it extremely difficult for pedestrians to use it.
Various issues are caused by drunk patrons of the TASMAC shop in addition to this. Women and young girls have been subject to cat-calling and have complained about being unable to cross the street safely.
Men can be seen waiting outside the gates of the nearby apartment for the TASMAC shop to open. They also consume liquor right outside the apartments once they purchase it from the TASMAC shop. Frequent quarrels break out among those who are drunk. The watchmen of the flats nearby have been verbally abused and threatened with physical violence when they have attempted to break up such fights.
Drunk patrons have passed out right near the entrance of these apartments, and can also be seen vomiting on occasion. Some of the patrons of the TASMAC can be seen loitering on the roads well into the night. Many apartments close to the TASMAC shop have basement parking, and cars exiting the gates may not be able to spot those who have passed out and are lying prone on the ground in the dark, or even otherwise.
Another issue of concern is that there are several schools nearby. Students of St. Patrick’s, St. Michael’s and Bala Vidya Mandir have to pass by the TASMAC shop to get to school. The scenes outside the shop are often traumatic for young children to witness and might be a bad influence on teenagers.
There is also a cancer hospital just across, on Sardar Patel Road, where patients are disturbed by the loud noise created by drunk patrons.
Attempts by residents to shut down TASMAC shop
Several futile attempts have been made by affected residents to have the TASMAC shop closed. The first sign of relief came in March 2017 when the shop was shut due to a broader order from the Supreme Court. However, our joy was short-lived as the ruling was overturned and the shop was reopened in September 2017.
When the shop was reopened, all the residents of Canal Bank Road protested against it. The police had to intervene and the shop was again shut down for a few days.
But once the residents withdrew the protest, the shop was once again up and running, this time with the help of the police.
The residents have written numerous letters to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Adyar appraising him of the problems faced and requesting his help to close down or shift the TASMAC shop.
While our request for more frequent police patrolling to curb the unruly behaviour of patrons was implemented, the shop continued to function in its current location.
In 2018, the residents wrote to the Managing Director of TASMAC detailing the issues faced due to the presence of the shop. In 2021, a letter was also sent to the office of the Chief Minister. We received a response directing us to meet with the MD of TASMAC. The MD in turn told us to approach the General Manager (Retail Vendors).
A group of members from Residents’ Welfare Associations (RWAs) in the surrounding apartments met the GM (Retail Vendors), Karthikeyan, in September 2021. We were told that the shop could be shifted once an alternative location had been arranged for it by the District Collector; orders for the same are awaited.
It’s been almost two years since the last meeting with no new developments. The TASMAC shop continues to exist and thrive and the problems faced by the residents remain the same.