Unacceptable objection to liquor ban in India

Tamil Nadu government says more than seven million people in the state drink daily. Source BBC News

The Supreme Court order banning the liquor shops within 500 meters of highways has been criticized by alcohol producers, merchants and liquor addicts all over India. Claims are made that such closure will lead to loss of millions of jobs all over India and huge loss of income for the government. These are exaggerated fears and misgivings.

Supreme Court has ordered the closure of liquor shops within 500 meters of highways, since the drunken men driving the vehicles cause accidents leading to injuries to people and loss of innocent lives. Supreme Court has not ordered the closure of all the liquor shops in the country but only those that are located within 500 meters of highways.

Supreme Court order make sense

While the reason extended by Supreme Court order makes sense, there are even more justifiable reasons for applying liquor bans such as lakhs of men belonging to poor families becoming alcohol addicts causing untold sufferings for the women in the families, leading to broken homes and uprooting the economic well-being and the life of children. What the recent trend of women also succumbing to liquor habits is causing alarm.

There are many persons who think that Supreme Court should have gone a step further and banned all the liquor shops all over India, considering the harm that is being done to the fiber and fabric of the society.

The anti-alcohol campaign has received huge support from women. Source BBC News

State governments should adopt positive approach

To circumvent the order of the Supreme Court, several state governments are now said to be taking steps to denotify the state highways within cities and towns and turning them into urban roads, so that the Supreme Court order would not apply to them. This is a negative approach.

The state governments should react to the Supreme Court judgement positively, considering the enormous social evils that happen due to the rapid spread of liquor habit amongst people and particularly the youth. State governments should examine as to how they should deal with the matter in a proactive way and implement the Supreme Court order, without causing much loss of income and job opportunities.

There are elegant ways of doing this.

Value added products from molasses

Molasses is an essential building block from which several value added products can be produced, amongst which ethanol is one.

There are several molasses and ethanol based products which are not produced in India and are presently being imported in large quantities in the country.

Considering the demand-supply scenario and projected growth in demand for such products in view of the high relevance of the products to the Indian and industrial economic growth pattern of the country, there are excellent investment opportunities for setting up downstream products from cane molasses and ethanol.

Setting up such projects would lead to investment, economic growth and direct and indirect job opportunities in multiple ways.

Indian import/export / production / demand for molasses/ethanol derivative products with high demand potential and significant import level are highlighted below:.

Period: April 2015 to March 2016

While there are some such value-added derivative products, a few of such products and investment opportunities are highlighted below:

Derivative product Feed stock Indian import in tonne Indian export in tonne Indian production
Citric acid Molasses 75,978 Nil Nil
Lactic acid Molasses 3518 2.5 1000 tonne
Polylactic acid Small quantity Nil Emerging bio degradable plastic
L-Lysine and its salts Molasses 40189 852 1000 tonne
Ethanol (ethyl alcohol) Molasses 450 million litres 140 million litres 2,085 million litres
Acetic acid Ethanol 712,384 Small quantity 160,000 tonne
Butanol Ethanol 62,511 194 7000 tonne
Butyl acetate Ethanol 56070


10 6000 tonne
Polyvinyl chloride Ethanol 1501311 3054 1438000 tonne



Ethyl acetate Ethanol 289 104821 360400 tonne


Investment opportunity in TamilNadu – A case study

Tamil Nadu is one of the leading states for some liquor addicts and sale of alcohol, which has happened due to the policy of Tamil Nadu government to sell the liquor through their government owned Tasmac shops and in the process giving legitimacy to this unfortunate trend.

Tamil Nadu had 6672 TASMAC liquor shops in 2016, which was reduced to 5672 stores due to public protests. Now, after the Supreme Court order, 3321 stores are likely to be closed. This would make a large quantity of alcohol available for setting up alcohol based downstream products. Several molasses based projects can also be set up.

There are 27 private, 16 cooperative and three public sector sugar mills in Tamil Nadu, which produce cane molasses apart from sugar. In Tamil Nadu, there are around 3,30,000 hectares of area under sugarcane cultivation and production of sugarcane is around 22 million ton per annum in a typical year when irrigation is adequately available.

Molasses is the mother liquor left after the crystallization of cane sugar from the concentrated sugar in the production process of sugar.

Period (April to March) Molasses production in lakh tonne Ethanol production from molasses

In lakh litres

2010-11 9.99 2119.43
2011-12 11.85 2301.72
2012-13 10.39 2288.69
2013-14 7.44 1765.52
2014-15 7.07 1595.40

Production of molasses has been fluctuating depending on seasonal factors

Potential investment based on several molasses /ethanol based projects in Tamil Nadu could well be over Rs.3,000 crore. When in operation, such projects can generate substantial income to the state by way of taxes and duties.

Such project would also promote all round growth and create employment at skilled and unskilled level. Such projects would pave the way for setting up many ancillary units.

It will take around one year or so to implement such projects in a planned manner. Construction activity itself will spur considerable industrial and business in the state.

The economic and social advantages setting up such molasses/ ethanol based projects in TamilNadu should be appreciated. Then, there would be no need to lose sleep over the Supreme Court decision to ban liquor outlet in highways.

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