Chennai: Electricity, prohibition and excise minister P. Thangamani on Monday announced that the government would issue licence to farmers for extraction and processing of Neera from coconut trees for the benefit of farmers.
The minister hailing from the Kongu region known for high production of coconuts said licence for marketing and export of Neera and products manufactured from it.
Replying to the discussion in the Assembly on demands for grants to Prohibition and Excise department, he said jaggery, honey, biscuits and sugar could be produced from Neera. Suitable amendments would be made in the Tamil Nadu Prohibition Act, 1937 to issue the licence to farmers, he said.
He also announced a pay increase for TASMAC retail vending personnel by Rs. 500 to Rs. 300 based on their grade. His ministry would conduct awareness campaigns against consumption of liquor in all the districts. The state government would provide assistance for rehabilitating pesons who had been weaned away from illicit distillation and illicit liquor trade.
Earlier, reacting to charges of DMK member A.L.S. Lakshmanan against the opening of liquor shops despite protests from the people and the order of the Supreme Court, he said the government policy is to bring prohibition in a phased manner.
Referring to the AIADMK manifesto for the 2016 Assembly elections, the minister said the party had promised prohibition in a phased manner and it had started it by closing 500 TASMAC shops.
He said people would be given awareness on the evils of liquor before the introduction of prohibition. Citing the statement of DMK president M. Karunanidhi when he was the Chief Minister in 1971 that the state is like a camphor amid raging fire, Thangamani said people from Cuddalore and Villupuram would go to Puducherry to obtain liquor even if there are no shops in Tamil Nadu. So, an awareness campaign on the evil effect of liquor would be necessary before the introduction of prohibition, he added.