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Liquor ban - Is it effective?

I am writing this letter with reference to a letter by a reader finding fault with the Government’s attempt to impose a liquor ban during Vesak, which appeared in a daily English paper recently.

The title in front of his name denotes that he is a medical professional. I doubt it. There are ample people representing multi-national companies, with this title in front. They are not worth for the medical profession. If not, they should not try to fool the people in this manner.

It is worth analyzing the arguments put forward by this ‘Medical Company’ for the sake of enlightening innocent people. He says that the ban has caused a loss of Rs. 300 million revenue to the Government.

I should say, healthy behaviour of people devoid of alcohol cannot be measured in money. I can submit as much as positive behavioral attitudes among the society such as family unity and bondage, happiness, inter-relationship among children/parents and spouses, etc. if there is no liquor consumption.

Also, he says that such bans actually have resulted in the world over for overconsumption of liquor. We have our own social behavioural style suitable to our cultural values. We need not take the filth from other countries. How come this writer predicts outcomes of this ban so soon?

The writer mentions that the beneficiaries of such bans are the Kasippu Mudalalies and criminals. This is a straightforward insult made towards those who consume licit liquor. Kasippu is being brewed and consumed behind lavatories. They use salt as the ‘bite’ along with Kasippu.

The writer also talks about the expenditure incurred on enforcement of this law. What is that additional or increased expenditure? The Police, the Excise Department and so on. They are there to perform that duty in their role of exercising the respective duties. Is it an additional expenditure? There is a constitutional authority to perform that enforcement.

“Alcohol has been drunk for thousands of years, and techniques of, processing it have been discovered independently by almost every citizen”, he says. However, much period it may be, 1,000-3,500 years could be, how much harm has it been doing to societies is now well-known and proved.

The Sinhala Buddhist culture for the last 2500 years has convinced that this habit could be prevented. Whatever important decisions to prevent any detrimental effects that it causes to the society, should be taken accordingly. It is one of the best decisions that the present President has taken.

In the past many massive bans have taken place in the Kasippu trade. But now it is controlled to a greater extent. The present licit alcohol ban was imposed in such atmosphere. Therefore, we do not expect a boost in Kasippu trade, instead.

Moderate drinkers never resort to using Kasippu. Their culture is different. The facts and views presented through this letter by the writer represent or resemble the publicity campaign of the so-called companies.

Every year they amend and shape up them and keep on fooling people. The income of the companies depends on the effectiveness of their propaganda work. Is this a hi-fi habit? Suggestion for moderate drinking too is an indirect influence. Alcohol is being used at different levels in the society (social drinking etc.).

To strengthen my arguments against the contents in the letter which appeared, I would like to quote some research findings revealed by S. B. Gayan Buddhika, a male nurse attached to the Teaching Hospital, Karapitiya, on the consequences of using alcohol, “11 per cent of patients who get admitted to hospitals for immediate surgeries are those affected by alcohol use.

The Government has to incur more than Rs. 100,000 per person to treat those patients who undergo surgeries due to alcohol use. Although the Government receives revenue from the tax imposed on the alcohol industry (four per cent), the Government has to spend an enormous amount of money to treat those patients and victims. It has to incur an amount of Rs. 40,000 an additional expenditure to cure such patients.”

He adds “money wasted on alcohol consumption is actually what a person should spend on their family maintenance. Furthermore until such persons recover from their disabilities; their family will lose income for months or may be for years to look after them during such period a family member has to attend to all the requirements of the patient.

If he is hospitalised family members will have to incur unnecessary expenditure and spend their precious time. Owing to these reasons, there could be a sudden disruption in the affairs of the family members too.

Though the extent of this loss varies from person to person, it affects a huge economical loss to the country and their families. We cannot really estimate the exact amount of loss caused due to alcohol consumption, as a life is an immeasurable wealth. Therefore, we cannot ascertain the damage or the harm that causes malfunctions within a family, the society and the country.

The writer seems to be not having any idea or feeling about prevention of alcohol use, especially as a medical professional. It is an utter futile attempt!

Manjari Peiris
Maharagama

Hazardous pavements

Dr. Tilak S. Fernando’s letter (DN April 21) highlights the plight of pedestrians in the Nawala/Borella area.

The problems stated by him are common to all local Government areas. Let me briefly dwell on this situation in Moratuwa where I belong.

With or without hawkers, the pavements are hazardous with open cross drains, collecting pits, potholes etc. The presence of hawkers, who obviously are at liberty to pitch their stalls anywhere they fancy, makes the situation worse.

Almost pushed out to the road, the pedestrians, which include, schoolchildren and the aged ladies chaperoning them, are all exposed to the hazards of the busy highway.

The three-wheelers add more confusion to this situation. They create their own parking bays without any consideration for other road users - pedestrians and motorists.

At all turn offs to main sub roads they park on either side, right on the turning curve, creating a bottle neck for other traffic. Eg. Turn offs to Angulana, Lunawa, Moratuwa Station Roads, Mendis Avenue, Holy Emanuel Church Road, M. J. C. Fernando Mawatha etc.

Three-wheelers are parked across the pavement at right angles to the road occupying the full width of the pavement again forcing the pedestrians to the road.

One could observe this near the busy colour light signals at the beginning of new Galle Road at the turn off to Uyana Road, turn off to Moratuwa Station Road from New Galle Road, opposite the AGA’s office, near Arpico sales outlet, next to Bank of Ceylon etc.

How come the Mobile Traffic Police on their official and private drives turn a blind eye to all these hazardous situations, which are obvious to the average road users?

Another stretch of pavement which is nobody’s concern is the pavement on both sides of the New Galle Road from Moratuwa to Panadura.

This pavement, I was given to undertsand, was funded by the Asian Development Bank as a road safety project in the interest of pedestrians.

I think it was designed, so that pedal cyclists too could use the road side section of the pavement, demarcated with a white line, without risking their lives on the highway.

This is the practice on busy highways in foreign countries. Due to the neglect and callous attitude of the authorities, this entire stretch of pavement has become a display and hawking area, for the cottage industry and other products of the area including fish.

A couple of police officers on a motorbike doing two patrols a day from Moratuwa to Modera can ensure that the pavements are put to proper use, and the highway is clear of cyclists riding abreast, in twos and threes.

We have a massive organisation called the Traffic Police with a DIG at the top and we, motorists only notice them hiding behind bushes on the highway to catch speed and whiteline violators.

LESLIE PERERA
Moratuwa

Possible bus fares reduction from ‘haves’ to ‘have-nots’

The long distance traveller over (40 miles) are: (a) the seasonal holidayers, (b) the businessmen, (c) festival and religious rite devotee visitors, (d) wedding and funeral attenders, (e) estate and land owners and (f) the tourist.

These categories of travellers will not feel the pinch on their purses on a Rs. 2.50 or Rs. 5.00 being added on for every 10 mile multiple over the 40 miles. Why not pass this extra as largesse to the ‘hard-pressed’ daily town and city commuter who jostle and shuffle the city precincts on regular private and business dealings for their ‘bread and butter’.

The poor housewife shouldn’t be side-lined either. This category should be the regular traveller to Colombo City from (a) Mt. Lavinia, (b) Nugegoda, (c) Battaramulla, (d) Wellampitiya, (e) Kiribathgoda and (f) Ja-Ela. Provincial towns and city runners too should benefit.

A team of accountants specially appointed by the Ministry with access to the revenues per routes from the islandwide depots/regions should ‘workout’ a practical increase to ‘cushion’ the short distance man. Perforated three way ‘tearaway’ tickets could be envisaged or even season tickets. The office/factory worker of the long distance category should also get a special reduction.

W. M. MEADOWS
Dehiwala

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