Puducherry, Jun 16 (IANS): Mahe which comes under the Union Territory of Puducherry and geographically sandwiched between Kannur and Kozhikode districts of Kerala, is turning into a major focal point for the smuggling of liquor to several areas of North Kerala especially amid the Covid-induced lockdown on the liquor shops and bars in Kerala.
Mahe and its suburbs like Koppalam, Pandakkal, Palloor are under the Union Territory of Puducherry and has bars and liquor vends and ever since the reopening of liquor shops in the UT after relaxation of lockdown rules, there has been huge smuggling from the UT areas.
Several trucks, mini lorries, four-wheelers like cars, besides inter-district buses and two-wheelers are being used to ferry liquor from Mahe and other areas of the UT which is hardly 5 km away from both Kannur district areas like Thalassery, Panoor and Kuthuparamba and Kozhikode district towns like Nadapuram, Valayam, Kallachi, Vadakara and other areas.
People can even walk down from these areas and smuggle liquor to the other side of the bother.
While there is a heavy posse of police and excise personnel at the check posts, there are several areas and small lanes through which two-wheelers and bicycles can be used to carry and smuggle liquor into Kerala areas.
Pradeep Kumar, a businessman in Thalassery told IANS: "People are moving to Mahe, Paloor, Koppalam, and Pandakkal and buying liquor and selling it at a premium of four to five times the original price in Thalassery, Kannur, Kuthuparamba and Panoor areas."
While there is less transport of liquor through interstate buses, it is also taking place with women being used as carriers.
Most of the transport of liquor is taking place in mini lorries which carry vegetables, eggs, fish, and poultry. Most of these vehicles are transporting in early morning hours.
Trains are also being used as a gateway with people booking tickets in Second AC and AC chair cars where checking is less and are also using general compartments to smuggle liquor.
With a sea and river connectivity between Mahe and other parts of Kannur district, fishing boats and small boats are also used to ferry liquor.
Purushothaman, owner of a popular liquor shop in Palloor told IANS: "We are doing brisk business but we don't know whether it is being smuggled to Kerala as there is no difference between the dialect which the people speak here and in other parts of North Kerala."
While Kerala is opening its liquor shops from Thursday, there is a hindrance in buying liquor as people will have to register with a mobile app registered with the Beverages corporation to buy liquor.
When traffic becomes heavy, the app will shut down thus creating difficulties and hence the liquor smuggling from Mahe is likely to continue unabated.