On occasion of World No Tobacco Day, Muktangan Rehabilitation Centre in Pune has written to Mayor Mukta Tilak asking to stop the process of declassification of highways passing through PMC limits in order to protect liquor business. The centre which runs as a deaddiction and rehabilitation centre for alcoholics, tobacco addicts and substance abusers has put forth this demand in order to implement Supreme Court’s judgment in its true spirit which would help in curbing alcohol and other related addictions in the city.
In its recent judgment, the Supreme Court had ruled that all bars, wine shops and permit rooms located at a distance of 500 metres or lesser from the national and state highways should be shut down. Citing that these highways are maintained by the civic body, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) had requested the Public Works Department to declassify the national and state highways passing through PMC limits.
The higher authority from Muktangan also think that the Supreme court order should be protected in its true spirit, and only then tobacco and consumption of other alcoholic drinks can be controlled.
Mukta Puntambekar, Project Director of Muktangan De-addiction Centre, said, “Many clubs and bars have already devised ways to escape the ruling and are selling alcohol illegally. On the one hand, there are efforts by NGO’s and government to curb alcoholism and other forms of addictions and on the other hand government is declassifying the highways so that the Supreme Court judgement would not be applicable.”
Majority of the national and state highways going through PMC limits are maintained by the civic body, but no written record stating the ownership of these highways with PMC is available. In order to restart liquor business, restaurant and bar owners are pressuring the government to declassify these highways with PMC.
“We hope that on the day of World No Tobacco Day, Mayor would look at our demand and would not allow the declassification of these highways. World No Tobacco Day is just an occasion to raise the issue, and when we are working to make society free of any addictions we want governments support in this. I had a talk with the Mayor and she has assured me to take the issue with the higher authorities in state,” she added.
Rajendra Rahane, Chief Executive Engineer, Public Works Department, Pune Division, said “Declassiification of any highways can be done only with the order of either state or Centre. It is the government which takes the decision. We are just implementing them.”
The Mayor would be attending a special program on World No Tobacco Day at the center on May 31 where the letter will be given to her. After repeated attempts, Mukta Tilak could not be reached for comment.
Muktangan is the first de addiction centre in the country to get an ISO 9001-2000 certification. The centre was born as ‘Anand Ward’ in a single room of state-run Yerwada mental hospital in Pune in 1986. For the last 26 years, the centre has been treating addictions ranging from Alcoholism, substance abuse and even gambling.
Muktanagan gets 100 male patients and 15 female patients admitted each month, with a relapse rate of 30 per cent after the first admission. Counseling, medication and different therapies is the way through which tobacco addicted patients are treated here.