The agenda behind the Supreme Court’s decision to ban liquor outlets close to national and state highways seems to have begun reaping success. Drunk driving case in Chennai have come down by 20% from before April, according to The New Indian Express.
According to the reports, there were about 2,500 cases per month in January, February and March in Chennai. But after the SC ruling on sale of liquor near highways, the number has come down to an average of around 1,900 in April and May, reports TNIE.
Of the four police zones in the city, the north zone has seen a drastic reduction in case. It has reduced from 398 cases in April to 53 cases in May. The West zone consisting of Ambattur, Avadi and Poonamallee, recorded the maximum number of drunk driving cases from January to May – 4,754. The number of cases recorded during April and May is at 1,743.
Sasi Mohan, Deputy Commissioner (Traffic-East Zone) told TNIE that urban north and south zones, where Anna Salai, Old Mahabalipuram Road and East Coast Road pass, show a bigger decline in driving under the influence of liquor than the outlying east and west districts that aren’t intertwined by state or national highways.
The problem is however far from completely under control. “Despite awareness campaigns and closure of liquor shops, drunk driving continues to remain a problem in the city. The only way to combat it is through stricter legislation,” said Sasi Mohan.
Highlighting the importance of road safety and the problem of drink driving in the country, the Supreme Court ordered the closure of all liquor shops along state and national highways on April 1.
The bench led by Chief Justice TS Thakur directed the central and state governments to not renew existing liquor licenses or issue new ones for vendors along highways.
The reduction in cases of drinking and driving however, seems to be more of a temporary statistic. The overall sales and consumption of liquor in the state has gone up.
According to data released by the Minister for Electricity,Prohibition and Excise revenue- liquor sales till May this fiscal year has surpassed the previous annum by a whopping Rs.1,149 crore. While the total revenue from sale of liquor came up to Rs.25,845 crore between 2015 and 2016, the succeeding year has seen revenue rise up to Rs.26,995 crore (till May).
This would mean that despite the closure of over 3000 liquor outlets in the state after the SC ruling and 1000 more aimed at phased prohibition, there is little change in the consumption pattern.