A. Srinivasa Rao
17:28 EST, 26 June 2012
03:21 EST, 27 June 2012
The famous temple town of Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh is likely to become a liquor-free zone, if the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), which manages the Lord Venkateshwara temple, succeeds in its efforts.
At present, the sale and consumption of liquor is banned on the Tirumala hills and the TTD authorities keep a strict vigil on the pilgrims. Any violation of this rule is a serious crime under the excise Act.
But the sale of liquor has been rampant in Tirupati with retailers doing brisk business in view of the heavy pilgrim inflow to the town.
Liquor-free zone: Alcohol consumption is a crime on Tirumala hills
Last week, the state government announced its excise policy and issued instructions to the excise and prohibition department authorities not to renew licences of 18 wine shops in the town, particularly in the areas where there is heavy movement of pilgrims.
Instructions were also issued to the Chittoor collector to close down the liquor shops located between the Tirupati railway station and the Kapila Theertham junction, en route to the Tirumala hills, with effect from July 1.
‘As such, the sale and consumption of liquor in the areas leading to the Tirumala hills will be banned,’ TTD sources said.
The decision comes in the wake of a series of representations made by the TTD authorities and the local people’s organisations to the government, expressing concern over the mushrooming of wine shops and unauthorised bars in the temple town.
Though the government’s decision was a welcome step, it didn’t put an end to the problem. The TTD authorities, supported by the local organisations, are now bringing pressure on the government to declare the entire temple town a liquor-free zone.
‘Though the closure of liquor shops in the pilgrim-dense locations is commendable, it is not enough to protect the sanctity of the pilgrim centre. The liquor dealers from the other parts of the town can find innovative methods and still sell liquor,’ sources said.
Bhumana Karunakara Reddy, the newly-elected YSR Congress MLA from Tirupati, on Sunday launched a ‘fast-unto-death,’ demanding that Tirupati be declared a liquor-free zone.
Reddy, who was the chairman of TTD during the rule of Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, said the Congress had, during the recent bypolls, promised to remove all the liquor shops in the temple town.
‘We demand total prohibition without any delay. The government should scrap licences of all shops in the town in order to create a spiritual atmosphere,’ he said.
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