The areas under lockdown include five hamlets of Kuttaieraiyur panchayat, Pandaravu hamlet of Oorgoundanur panchayat, the Peria Kilpattu and Chinna Kilpattu hamlets of Thenmalai athiyur panchayat and the Erukampattu hamlet of Puliyur. “The main villages are also affected as no people or vehicle movement is allowed either inside or out,” officials averred.
The villages have been cordoned off by placing heaps of thorny bushes across the road, as there are no metal barricades in the hills. Hence, in addition to ensuring the lockdown’s stay at home mode, it also
ensures that locals do not venture out to distill hooch, an official said.
The district police had successfully weaned tribals away from illicit distillation a decade ago and today nearly 20,000 of the 60,000-odd tribal population in the Jawadhu hills work in the coffee and pepper estates in Karnataka, where a family of five easily earns more than Rs 2 lakh in six months.
“As they are slim and wiry, they easily climb the pepper plants and hence they are much-sought-after by the estate owners there,” a Rural Development Department official, who lives in Jawadhu hills, revealed.
“When they go there, they carry with them all provisions necessary for the duration of their stay and as plucking one kilo of pepper fetches them between Rs 200 to Rs 300, an expert person can easily earn more than Rs 1,000 a day. Thus, at the end of six months – they do not take weekly breaks – a person will have a minimum of Rs 3 lakh to Rs 4 lakh,” he added.
Problems for the police started when Tasmac closure resulted in many former customers attempting to come to the hills for their daily brew. “Some even contacted those staying in Karnataka to provide them hooch. When we heard about this, we informed the tribals working in Karnataka to stay there and not come to their hill village till the national lockdown was lifted,” a reliable source said.
“But, it is to prevent tribals from being tempted to opt for easy money at home through illicit distillation that we have enforced a total pandemic-related lockdown in the four panchayats which have a history of such doings,” a senior police official said.
Two held for liquor sale in, Pudukai; 1,985 bottles seized
TIRUCHY: Alangudi police in Pudukkottai district have arrested two persons who were found to be smuggling IMFL bottles and selling them in an exorbitant price. As many as 1,985 bottles were also seized from the duo.
The tipplers, who were frustrated after the closure of Tasmac outlets in the regions, are in the habit of going to any extreme level to satisfy their liquor needs and a few even attempt to break open the outlets and steal the bottles for their use.
The Tiruchy district administration has found as many as 44 Tasmac outlets vulnerable and emptied the
shops and stocked the bottles at Thevar Hall in the City. Still, there were instances of shop-breaking and illegal sale of liquor recorded.
On Sunday, the Alangudi police, on a tip-off, rushed to the spot and found that two persons, identified as Kanagaraj (38) of Andikulam near Alangudi and Karuppiah (40) from Alangudi, were selling liquor in an exorbitant price