The state government’s new liquor policy ratified by the High Court of making liquor available only in Five-star bars have caused a record hike in sale of liquor in Mahe, the town that lie sandwiched between the districts of Kannur and Kozhikode.
With the new liquor policy that is to be implemented in a phased manner aiming at a total liquor prohibition in the state, the lives of the residents in Mahe have reportedly become intolerable. Foreign Liquor is available in plenty and at a cheap rate in this sub-division of Puducherry state, the reason why people flock to the town for consuming and buying liquor. Lakhs of litres are sold every day and the rush, reportedly, is increasing day by day. With 30 wholesale and 34 retail liquor shops in Mahe, the place has turned into a ‘paradise of boozers’. The population in this erstwhile French colony comes to around 38, 000 and the town has the largest liquor consumption when compared to the rest of the world with most of the liquor flowing outside the town. According to the reports, the percentage of the liquor consumers in Mahe is a mere fifteen.
Mahe was a French colony during the time of British rule in India. Even after India gained independence in 1947, it continued to remain under French jurisdiction until 1954 following the struggle for freedom under I K Kumaran, for nearly two and a half centuries and became a Union Territory later. With the record hike in liquor sale, this part of Puducherry is likely to mint money from liquor trade and witness rapid economic booms. The officials too are deliberately and unknowingly risking a major portion of income tax for the Kerala Excise Department. The suggestions by M Mugundhan, one of the pioneers in Malayalam literature, become relevant in this context. The author of the ‘Mayyazhippuzhayude Theerangalil’ suggests incorporating Mahe into Kerala state. He said that unlike the Kerala residents, the people of Mahe enjoy tax exemptions on many goods along with other benefits which rubbish the necessity to retain the town separate from Kerala. According to him, it’s the people who have to take the final decision. The power hungry politicians might continue to be adamant on retaining Mahe as a part of Puducherry and the owners of the liquor shops are likely to side them. What matters and values the most are the opinions of the people who reside along the borders of Mahe as well as Kerala.