Protests by Perambur residents bear fruit as TASMAC shop shuts down

Shutting down liquor shops in Chennai

tasmac shop chennai
TASMAC shop in Perambur has been closed after years of protest by residents. Pic: Raghukumar Choodamani

Tamil Nadu generates a whopping Rs 44,000 crores in revenue from the Government owned TASMAC liquor stores every year. It is truly unfortunate that these shops have turned into a key source of revenue for the state as their adverse effect on the populace is not quantifiable.

Making the entire situation even more unpalatable is the location of such shops across the state. Residential neighbourhoods which were once peaceful have seen great disruptions due to the presence of TASMAC shops. 

One such area is in Perambur where three TASMAC shops operated within 100 mts, making the lives of residents increasingly difficult as drunk patrons of the shops caused issues on a daily basis.

After much effort from the residents, one of three shops has finally downed its shutters.

Read more: When the new business in your neighbourhood spoils your peace

Location of TASMAC shops in Perambur

Venkataraman Canal Street in Perambur in Zone 6 is a narrow street located diagonally opposite the Perambur Railway Station.TASMAC administration saw this location as a good business opportunity which will yield revenue and set up three outlets within a total distance of 100 mts.

A cluster of three TASMAC shops with attached bars on the arterial bus route road behind a  residential neighbourhood was uncalled for given the numerous problems associated with the consumption of liquor.

Residents of the area have had to deal with drunken driving, drunken brawls, public nuisances such as urination, haphazard and illegal parking, consumption of liquor in public spaces, eve teasing and chain snatching ever since the shops were set up in the locality. 

Efforts by residents to remove the TASMAC shops in Perambur

Considering the inconvenience caused by the presence of the shops, residents have been making attempts to have them removed from this location for many years.

Since 2008, we have filed an umpteen number of petitions to the state administration seeking the removal of one of the shops and the attached bars located next to Venkatraman Canal Street as the bar was being operated as an open-air setup. 

All three bars attached to the TASMAC shops in the area did not have a licence and were operating illegally. Despite our complaints and reports in the media, no action was taken against these outlets.

During the previous AIADMK regime, several protests were held by the people across the state seeking total prohibition of liquor. We hoped to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

Unfortunately, the movement fizzled out. 

We continued to follow up with the state administration and filed grievance petitions to the Chief Minister’s Special Cell. 

open ar bar in TASMAC
Open air bar of TASMAC in a residential neighbourhood. Pic: Raghukumar Choodamani
complaint by perambur residents against TASMAc
Complaint registered with CM cell against TASMAC outlet in Perambur. Pic: Raghukumar Choodamani

The government closed 500 shops located in various parts of the state on two different occasions but the TASMAC shops making our daily lives hell continued to operate with impunity.

While the authorities concerned accepted our subsequent petitions they were very reluctant to close down the shops. 

The response we received from them included reasons such as the promotion of liquor being a policy matter of the government and only a change in policy could result in the shutting down of the shops. 

Before the 2021 assembly elections, the then-opposition party, DMK, promised to reduce the number of liquor shops if they are elected.  

After assuming office the government chose to go back on its promise. While it chose to close down the shops which were not generating enough revenue, an equal number of shops were opened at other locations. 

All this took place even as residents of Venkataraman Street awaited a reprieve from the daily trouble that the TASMAC shops brought to the residents.

Read more: Living next to a TASMAC outlet: A citizen experience

TASMAC closure in Perambur

After many years of protests, there was finally some light at the end of the tunnel. 

The most recent announcement on the closure of 500 TASMAC outlets includes one of the illegal bars and the shop that added to the woes of the residents. 

TASMAC shop number 255 located right behind my house was shut down on June 22, bringing many years of struggle to an end.

In the weeks since, our demand for shutting down this particular shop stands vindicated. 

Since the closure of the shop, tipplers have stopped thronging our residential street. Haphazard parking of two-wheelers on either side of the narrow lane is no longer an issue. 

Public nuisance, consumption of liquor in public, and drunken brawls were a part of our life for over three decades, and shutting down one liquor shop has given us some relief. 

There are two more shops operating in the immediate neighbourhood and residents in the adjoining streets have been intensifying their efforts to ensure their closure.

We have done our bit to secure our street by engaging constantly with the government. It remains to be seen if the rest of the neighbourhood will also receive the same consideration that we did.

The relentless efforts of the residents of our street show that civic and social engagement is the key to resolving all our problems. 

While this is certainly a victory to rejoice in, recent announcements by the government on the potential sale of liquor in tetra packs and the possibility of opening toddy shops are to be noted with some concern.

After having worked hard to put an end to the menace of TASMAC in our locality, it is disheartening to note the possibility of the state working to make access to liquor easy, potentially creating a young population addicted to alcohol.

We hope that a stronger stance is taken against the presence of TASMAC shops in residential neighbourhoods in the city and that the adverse effect of alcohol in the lives of Chennaiites is minimised.

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About Raghukumar Choodamani 36 Articles
Raghukumar Choodamani is a resident of Chennai and likes to write about his observations in Chennai.