(KANNUR, Apr, 02,2017):On a Sunday, Mahe town—an erstwhile French colony now part of Puducherry—wears an uneasy silence. Barring the visitors to the Mahe Church and the shrine of St Teresa, there aren't many people around.
With the Supreme Court order finally downing the shutters of 32 bars and liquor shops in the town, as they come within the 500metre range of the national highway, there are only two liquor outlets a retail shop and a bar. They are located on the road named after I K Kumaran Master, popularly called 'Mahe Gandhi'.
The remaining 28 bars and liquor shops are in Palloor and Pandakkal, outside the town.
The local shop owners, who depend on the tipplers for their business, are now a worried lot. "Even if the bars and wine shops are relocated to the interiors, it will ultimately affect our livelihood," said K P Ravindran, a small shop owner in the heart of the town. In Mahe, most of the tipplers would consume the alcohol at the liquor outlets itself, and shops selling soda, water and other items used to make good profit out of them.
However, the tipplers' menace has been reduced considerably, according to the local police."Previously, they used to throng the place but now there is a reprieve. Now, we are concerned about them thronging the one or two liquor vends that are open, but we have ensured enough security in those places," said a polic officer.
Most of the regulars now prefer the outlets in Pandakkal, a few kilometres away from town. "Don't worry, in the next few days all the shops will be opened as the licence fees have already been paid by the bar and liquor shop owners and the government cannot deny permission," said one of them in the queue. When contacted, Mahe administration officials agreed they have got the licence renewal application but they are yet to take a decision as to how to sanction it.
"We will not let the liquor vends to be shifted to the residential areas, because Mahe, with a population of less than 40,000 people does not need so many outlets, and our aim is to fight legally to reduce the total number of liquor shops here to less than 25," said Jinos Basheer, secretary of Mayyazhikootam, an organization of Mahe expatriates, which fought along with other groups to relocate the liquor outlets within 500 metres' distance from the highway
The walls of the local church still have the warning written across it—"Don't enter the church after drinking."