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Public resentment brews as liquor shops come up in residential areas

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  14 April 2017 12:00 AM GMT

From our Correspondent

TINSUKIA, April 13: With complaints piling up against establishment of liquor shops in residential areas following the apex court’s ban, resentment is brewing in Tinsukia against the apathetic attitude of the government in dealing with such social issues.

While on one hand the liquor shop owners, who had to shut down their shutters in conformity with the Supreme Court guidelines, are hunting for suitable places, even if residential, after getting the local public’s consent by dubious means, on the other, the residents of the areas are putting up a strong resistance through complaints to department officials concerned. The district administration in Tinsukia in some cases is keeping all public objections at bay and permitted few liquor shops to open in residential areas leading to social unrest and creating law-and-order problem in the locality. The liquor lobby, considered to be most powerful having been backed by money and muscle power, often overrides public sentiments.

Needless to say that such closure will lead to enormous loss to the government in terms of revenue and will cost the livelihood of many, but it is likely that illegal liquor vendors will proliferate clandestinely along highways and alleys leading to higher risks to public life than expected. The entire stretch of NH 37, 52, 152A from Dibrugarh to Aruchal Pradesh are dotted with dhabas, uuthorized bars and liquor shops which cater to several hundred truck and oil tanker drivers and staff carrying goods from Aruchal Pradesh and Assam, besides other passenger vehicles. Tinsukia district perhaps had registered the highest growth of liquor consumption among all districts of Assam with 134 licensed liquor shops and bars prior to March 31, 2017. At present after the ban, 24 liquor shops and seven bars have been retained in the entire Tinsukia district with six and three bars in and around Tinsukia town which have filly survived. The 84 liquor shops which have been closed in Tinsukia district are now desperate enough for entry into various residential areas in the district, including Tinsukia town.

Trouble has already erupted with police registering a case last week following clashes between a liquor shop owner and residents over fresh opening of a bar and shop. Though several groups, including electronic media persons, were involved in the skirmishes, the police allegedly took a biased stand for reasons best known to them and put the owner of the liquor shop behind bars, according to eye witnesses.

In Tinsukia town, three populated arterial roads within the municipal area beyond 500 metres from NH are Rongagora Road to Borguri and beyond, Parbotia Road and Gelapukhuri Road. Some of the prospective liquor shop owners, according to complaints, have maged to procure NoCs in favour of business establishment by allegedly bribing the officials concerned despite public protest while some have already applied. One liquor shop owner who shifted recently from outside Tinsukia procured the license by virtue of ‘tents’ consent’ despite objection from the permanent local residents.

The conscious and responsible public have urged the office of Deputy Commissioner of Tinsukia and the Excise department in particular to examine the merit of the location before issuing liquor license and to call for public hearing on specific dates to avoid future controversies.

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