CHENNAI: Has anyone seen Tasmac distributing t-shirts, travel bags and calendars to create awareness among the public about the ill-effects of liquor consumption?
Whenever the topic of discussion veers towards prohibition, the State government claims it has ‘vigorous’ awareness programmes against the evils of alcoholism. These are listed in the policy note of the department as well. However, like the t-shirts and bags, these initiatives remain only on paper, admitted a Tasmac official on condition of anonymity.
“Every year Tasmac will plan to conduct awareness activities like rallies, camps, seminars, street plays, skits, elocution and essay competitions, advertisements, distribution of pamphlets, and human chains on what liquor addiction can do to a person and family,” said an official.
Mass awareness rallies during which pamphlets would be distributed to the public are among other plans that the government has charted. That is not all. Cultural events in all districts; poetry, story and short film competitions; and stickers pasted on State-run buses are also part of the plan.
“However, most of these planned programmes still remain only on in papers and have not been implemented properly,” the official rued.
“Though more than Rs 5 crore has been allocated to conduct these programmes, but Tasmac still receives t-shirts, stickers and other items for free from liquor manufacturers,” he alleged. The department also outsources its secondary awareness programme activities to NGOs, which would cost more. “It is not clear where the allocated fund goes,” he added.
A staff of a liquor outlet in Chennai added that many liquor manufacturers offer them complimentary items to promote their brands. “In return, the company representatives ask us to ensure a good display for their brands,” he said.
Repeated efforts to obtain official reaction from the corporation and department proved futile.