Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) [India], May 5 (ANI): As liquor shops across Andhra Pradesh reopened after a long time following relaxations by the government, school teachers here were roped in to control the throng of tipplers who were seen pushing and shoving each other to buy alcohol without maintaining social distancing.
Along with a handful of policemen, volunteers were deployed to regulate the chaotic queues outside the shops in this coastal city, which has reported at least 35 COVID-19 positive cases.
Many have criticised this move of deploying teachers as volunteers at liquor shops.
Assistant Commissioner of the Excise Department, Bhaskar Rao told ANI over the phone: "Out of a total 311 alcohol shops in the district, 272 shops are functioning in the district. Due to heavy crowd, government teachers were deployed at wine shops to manage the crowd. The teacher distributes tokens to those who line up to buy and consumers can arrive at the shop at the time when his token number comes."
In Anakapalli town in Visakhapatnam district, two teachers said they were tasked to regulate queues and see that social distance is maintained among buyers.
One of the teachers said, "I am Lakshmi Narayana, teacher at Buchaiahpet mandal. This is Mahesh, teacher from Anakapalle mandal. We are paired up and given duty at this wine shop. Thus, two teachers each are deployed at every wine shop. See teacher profession means service, we are ready to do service anywhere. But we are feeling guilty to do duty at wine shops. All teachers are condemning this. We are ready to do any service that government needs. But we request not to place us at wine shops."
The teacher added, "Our DEO has asked us to report at the police station. The police allotted us the place of duty. We did not know that we would be placed on this service. We are doing what we are asked to do. When the government asks, we have to oblige. But we request the government to use our services elsewhere."
Meanwhile, at a liquor shop in the city, women held a protest. One protester said: "Vegetable markets stay open for only 3 hours but liquor shops are allowed to remain open for 7 hours".
Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday hiked the prices of liquor by 50 per cent, a day after it imposed a 25 per cent hike, which takes the overall hike in liquor price in the state to 75 per cent. The revised rates came into effect from today. The hike has been imposed to discourage alcohol consumption, according to the chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy's office. (ANI)