Chennai, May 6 : After a gap of over 40 days, liquor shops in Tamil Nadu - barring those in Chennai and those in confinement zones - are gearing up to open for business.
The Madras High Court on Wednesday ordered in favour of opening the shops in a case filed against the state government's decision to throw open the shops.
Some liquor outlets got a fresh coat of paint while the barricades were built to control and organise the crowd. The stock of liquor bottles safely stored away from the shops - where bottles were stolen in large numbers - were transported in trucks back to the shops.
The government had ordered social distancing of six feet to be maintained between two persons standing in the queue.
It also came out with liquor sales timings for different age groups - those over 50 years of age can buy from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., those in age group 40-50 between 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and for below 40 years of age, between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Meanwhile the opposition DMK and its allies announced that they would hold a black badge protest on Thursday against the government's decision to open liquor outlets when the state is seeing an increasing number of Covid-19 patients.
Earlier in the day, Tamil Nadu government announced a hike the excise duty by 15 per cent on Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) resulting in a price hike of Rs 10-20 for the tipplers.
Liquor retail in Tamil Nadu is a state monopoly run by the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation or popularly known as Tasmac.
As a result, the maximum retail price (MRP)of an ordinary variety of 180 ml bottle will go up by Rs 10 and that of the medium and premium varieties of IMFL increase by Rs 20 per 180 ml bottle.
There are over 5,300 Tasmac liquor outlets in the state contributing about Rs 30,000 crore of tax revenue to the state exchequer.
The revenue from the liquor bottle sales was bottled up during the lockdown period.
The Tamil Nadu government said in order to control the movement of people in the border areas with Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh as liquor shops have been opened there, the decision to open the liquor shops in the state was taken.
Major opposition parties in the state have strongly criticised the government's decision to open the liquor outlets.