COVID-19 lockdown hangs heavy on boozers in Himachal – The Statesman

Posted: April 12, 2020 at 8:45 pm

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The likely extension in Covid-19 lockdown hangs heavy on the boozers in Himachal Pradesh, whose numbers are no less as compared to those in other states of the country.

With all liquor shops, restaurants and hotels closed since 23 March when the state imposed lockdown followed by curfew on 24 March, black marketing of liquor is flourishing in the state withavailable stocks.

The desi liquor is also in much circulation behind the scenes, as claimed by Director General of Police, SR Mardi himself in his address to people on Friday, wherein he told peopleto stay away from localHooch distillation,which can be life threatening for the user.

Sources in the field said certain brands of English liquor are being sold on very high prices to individual customers, but that doesnt dissuade the alcohol consumers in the state from buying their stock, while escaping the eye of Police.

Himachal being a small state, people are using their personal links to buy liquor from closed hotels, shops and restaurants off-the-record, but not all have that access or the money to spend.

Moved by some considerations a few days after imposing the curfew last month end, the Himachal Pradesh government had ordered that liquor vends would also remain open during the curfew relaxation time, along with essential commodities shops. However, within few hours, it withdrew the decision, reportedly owing to criticism on social media.

The state government has been promoting the sale of liquor all through as it is an important source of revenue for a state like Himachal- up to Rs 1500 crores in a year on an average. Even when the Apex Court had given directions to close down the liquor vends from main highways, the government had taken the other route- It has denotified the highways. Then why they are not allowing liquor vends to open now? said some alcohol users on terms of anonymity.

The answer to the questions lies in the fact that alcohol does not come in the essential commodities list in the event of lockdown and curfew.

Even otherwise, the World Health Organisation (WHO) too has advised that drinking too much alcohol can impair immune response to diseases, including Covid-19.

A document by National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi titled Lockdown and Alcohol Withdrawal dated 29 March addresses the issue of unavailability of alcohol and the types of withdrawal systems with advice to different categories of alcohol users.

A lockdown situation which entails non-availability of alcohol may be a blessing in disguise for some people who may utilize this opportunity to quit drinking altogether. However, it is also a significant challenge for certain proportion of people with alcohol dependence, who are at risk of experiencing severe alcohol withdrawal and its consequences, the NDDTC document said.

It even mentioned that there are indications that various health facilities across the country have started getting patients with severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms since the lockdown has been instituted, stressing the need for health services to prepare accordingly to deal with situation, with reference to telemedicine services too, in such circumstances.

The alcohol withdrawal symptoms can sometimes be life threatening as it affects a person physically as well as psychologically. In such a situation, he should be immediately taken to the emergency in hospital in treatment, said Dr Sanjay Pathak, Chief Executive Officer of Himachal Pradesh Mental Health Authority.

According to national survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India commissioned by Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in 2018-19, nationally 14.6 per cent population (between 10 and 75 yrs of age) uses alcohol, 5.2 per cent of them are problem users and 2.7 percent dependent users.

In Himachal Pradesh, the number of males who use alcohol are 17.6 per cent and the overall per cent age of alcohol users is over 8 per cent in the same age category.The state also has some license holders, who bring out traditional liquor, Angoori, in tribal district of Kinnaur.

COVID-19 lockdown hangs heavy on boozers in Himachal - The Statesman

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April 12th, 2020 at 8:45 pm