Khammam: Ganeshampadu, a village of Penuballi mandal in this district, adjacent to Kokilampadu in Tiruvuru mandal in Andhra Pradesh, is experiencing intense activity in the Covid19 situation.
Almost 100 people from Kokilampadu came to the belt shops in Ganeshpadu every day to drink alcohol. Double or triple, this number arrives from other villages of Tiruvuru mandal to the liquor stores of Ganeshpadu. The flow of such people continues even in these times of pandemic.
There are 48 such villages near the PA borders in the Sattupalli and Madhria staging segments that are identified as areas of super spread of Covid19 by the Telangana government.
Although the government asked excise officials to shut down the belt shops in these villages, it was not easy. Many escape the checkpoints on the Telangana side and reach the belt shops via inland roads.
Belt shop owners went out of business two days after police and excise officials raided the area, but resumed sales later.
Supplying alcohol to belt stores is more lucrative than selling it to drinkers who come to liquor stores in mandals like Vemsoor, Penuballi, Madhira, Kallur, Tallada, Bonakal, Mudigonda and Nelakondapalli in Khammam district.
Nearly 50 to 60 positive cases for Covid19 are reported every day in these two districts. The state’s principal secretary and director of medicine and health visited both constituencies and asked officials to verify the spread of the pandemic.
Interestingly, however, the government has failed to make store opening hours in Madhira and Sattupalli assembly constituencies on par with those in other regions. Lockdown in these segments is from 2 p.m. to 6 a.m. in these two segments compared to 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the rest of the state.
A social activist in Penuballi, Prasad, said closing licensed liquor stores during the lockdown is the only way to control the threat. “Belt stores will prevail even in a lockdown period until licensed stores open,” he said.