Whether to continue the lockdown beyond April 14 or not and if Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation run liquor outlets may be reopened, will be decided by Chief Minister K Palaniswami, Excise and Prohibition Minister, P Thangamani said on Friday.
Asked if the government would look into reopening TASMAC outlets considering the deaths of alcoholics consuming after shave lotion and other aspects including seizure of arrack, he said, "It can be decided only after April 14. The shops will not be opened till such time the lockdown is in force."
To another related question, he told PTI that whether to continue lockdown or not and allow reopening of TASMAC shops are all "policy decisions, the Chief Minister will decide."
The Minister said nothing could be specified now and indicated that a clear picutre on reopening or not the liquor outlets may emerge after April 14.
On some alcoholics taking the extreme step of allegedly committing suicide and consuming harmful sustances to get a high, he said awareness programmes were being held to sensitise and educate them about the adverse effects of alcohol consumption.
All government medical college hospitals in Tamil Nadu offer counselling and appropriate treatment to ensure their good health, the Minister said.
The lockdown is in force in Tamil Nadu from 6 pm on March 24 and liquor stores are shut since then.
Tiruvannamalai district police have said that they arrested six men and seized their vehicles for allegedly smuggling 150 litres of arrack. All the accused men have been remanded to judicial custody.
Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president K S Alagiri, days ago had drawn the government's attention to news reports of alleged brewing and sale of illicit liquor in Vellore district's Anaicut area.
Following the lockdown, at least six men have died recently in Tamil Nadu after they consumed after shave lotion and paint varnish, falsely believing that these would give them a high and were not harmful.
A 43-year old man hailing from Karur district allegedly committed suicide following frustration due to days of alcohol deprivation.
After trying desperately to get a bottle of liquor, a 65-year old man fainted and later died at a government hospital in Villupuram district recently.