Tamil Nadu Minister for Prohibition and Excise Natham. R. Viswanathan on Thursday categorically said imposition of prohibition in the State was not possible in the current scenario. A fiery debate was sparked off between AIADMK and DMK, where DMK suggested that there is a lack of will from the ruling party for non-implementation of prohibition in the state. The primary reason quoted by the Minister for not implementing prohibition is due to the dependence of Tamil Nadu revenue on TASMAC.
For the financial 2015-2016, the projected revenue of the state is pegged at Rs 96083.14 crores out of which a whopping Rs 29,672 crores will be expected from TASMAC. This is near nearly 30 per cent of revenue contribution from alcohol sales and subsequently there has been a steady increase of alcohol sales in the state over the past decade.
From the above table it is evident that there has been an average increase of 20 per cent (yearly average) in alcohol sales over the last 12 years. This certainly concludes that both AIADMK and DMK are equally responsible for creating this dependency. There has been no action plan whatsoever by either of the Dravidian parties to free the state from immersing itself in the damning spirit of alcohol. While both the parties are going bonkers against each other, what one fails to notice is the close tie up of Dravidian politicians and monopoly over alcohol distribution in the state.
Out of the total 18 distilleries and breweries, a majority of them enjoy political patronage from either of the major Dravidian parties. In 2010, the DMK-led government sanctioned former Union minister S Jagathratchagan’s family members who owned Elite Distilleries to set up AM Breweries. Another manufacturer who got the nod was S Jayamurugan, who set up SNJ Distilleries – the man who co-produced two movies in which DMK chief Karunanidhi had written the script. Golden Vats Distilleries is managed by close associates of former Union minister and DMK leader T R Baalu. While Midas Golden Distilleries is reportedly owned by Karthikeyan Kaliyaperumal, who is related to Sasikala, a close confidante of TN Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, which is said to have benefited vastly after the AIADMK government came to power.
The Minister further went on to say that if the Central government compensated the revenue loss of TASMAC, the state would bring in prohibition. This argument is absolutely absurd considering the fact the Tamil Nadu as a state is ranked number three in terms of Industrial development and has an abundant richness in natural resources. In one of our previous article, we had suggested how U Sagayam, an IAS officer who is currently probing the granite scam in Madurai, had filed a report stating that the exchequer is facing a loss of nearly 1.10 Lakh crores. If the Tamil Nadu government is seriously about tackling corruption and generating revenue, it can easily be recovered by filling gaps in Illegal Granite extraction, Sand extraction and thorium extraction. But unfortunately even in these areas there are high level political connections with Tamil Nadu Minerals Limited (TAMIN).
Dravidian parties in the state has been endorsing the freebie culture right from 1967 when C N Annadurai brought in the program of one rupee for a measure of rice. This endorsement of this culture is what decides the ruling party at the state level assembly elections. DMK’s freebie promises in 2006 election manifesto and concurrently AIADMK’s counter promises in 2011 have been the key vote deciders. The State government in 2015-16 has planned to spend a whopping 56 per cent of its own revenues and over 41 per cent of its total revenues, which include Central transfers and grants on subsidies and freebies. This will most likely be a move aimed with an eye at the 2016 assembly election result.
If our neighboring state Kerala which is primarily dependent on tourism, can sketch out a plan to implement prohibition in the state. Tamil Nadu can certainly do the same considering the various avenues we have for generating revenues. Probably lack of political will and reeking corruption within the Dravidian parties is what stopping the successive governments making such a move. If people of Tamil Nadu feel the need prohibition is mandatory, only a showcase of the same in electoral selection can bring in this move.
Pics Credit: Indian Express