Tipplers in seventh heaven, womenfolk upset with decision

Mixed reaction to opening of private liquor vends at Rangat
Report by: 
V SENTHIL KUMAR
RANGAT
11 Jun 2018

More than a year after facing closure, opening of licensed private liquor vends at Rangat after permit granted by the district administration, as per the direction of the Calcutta High Court and clarification issued by the Apex Court, has evoked mixed reactions from residents in the Middle Andaman region. While tipplers are happy as they would now be able to save money spent on travelling to Mayabunder to purchase their dose of toddy, womenfolk and social activists have expressed shock over the decision by the administration, which earlier established the Directorate of Prohibition with an aim to substantially bring down consumption of liquor.
As per reports, almost all the licensed liquor outlets at Rangat opened recently after the district administration renewed permits for their operation. Barring one, all the bars reported spike in profits as hundreds of alcohol aficionados from different parts in Middle Andaman flock at the vending outlets from 11 am. As per sources, the liquor shop run by ANIIDCO at Rangat Bazar is also slated to open soon. “The Apex Court diktat had brought huge relief for many families in the Middle Andaman region. A blanket ban of liquor vends operating within 500 mtrs of the national and state highways had left to closure of all bars and ANIIDCO outlets in Middle Andaman. The quality of life of the residents here, especially women, took a turn for the better after the ban. But the situation is back to square one now. There are many families, which suffer from shortage of essential commodities, but tipplers now have no bother in the world as they can always have what they want after the opening of liquor vends,” lamented some residents of Rangat.
“Closure of private liquor outlets caused big revenue losses to the UT administration since April 2017. Moreover, the decision to reopen bars has been taken as per the directions of the Apex Court. There is nothing wrong in it. Massive chaos had become the order of the day in the headquarter region of the North and Middle Andaman, Mayabunder, which narrowly missed the parameters set by the Supreme Court for operation of liquor vends. Alcohol aficionados from Baratang in Middle Andaman to Diglipur in North Andaman had developed an habit to travel to Mayabunder to purchase their share of IMFL bottles from the government vend. Closure of Bars in the Middle Andaman region also affected the livelihood of several unemployed youth in the region,” claimed Manager of a liquor bar at Rangat.
The Apex Court, disposing of an interlocutory application filed by the Andaman and Nicobar Administration seeking exemption of the distance of 500 mtr of the outer edge of the National/State Highway at par with the State of Sikkim and Meghalaya, on July 12, 2017, allowed the application observing that the factual position pertaining to the geographical location of Andaman and Nicobar Islands has been fully demonstrated and granted exemption of clause 24(v)(iii) of the original judgment to the Andaman and Nicobar Administration whereby the embargo of 500 mtr of the outer edge of National/State Highway service line along with highway was lifted.
The Calcutta High Court, in November last year, directed the Deputy Commissioner of South Andaman District to take an appropriate decision in terms of clarifications issued by the Apex Court post its judgment on  December 15, 2016 in which sale of liquor along national and state highways was banned in all States and Union Territories of the country from  April 1, 2017. Disposing of a bunch of petitions, the division bench of the Calcutta High Court had directed the Deputy Commissioner to dispose of applications for renewal of the bar licence in terms of the decision of the Supreme Court within a period of four weeks from date and complete the exercise within six/eight weeks.