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Kerala liquor prohibition: Fate of bars to be decided today

India TV News Desk 22 Aug 2014, 11:46:16 AM IST
India TV News Desk
New Delhi: Kerala has the highest per capita consumption of liquor in the country at 8.3 litres. Punjab comes second with 7.9 litres, while the national per capita consumption of liquor is 4 litres. The state has announced a massive clampdown on availability of liquor with an aim to be free of booze in 10 years.

Now, Kerala is on the verge to adopt a key tenet of the Gujarat model: prohibition.

The Chief Minister Oomen Chandy has said Kerala will allow only 5-Star hotels to serve liquor from 1 April, 2015 with every Sunday as a Dry Day.

Last week, Kerala high court asked the government to examine all hotels for their facilities and submit a report on the same by August 26. Besides, the court wanted to peruse the state's liquor policy, which restricted fresh liquor licence for five star hotels from this fiscal.

The Congress-led United Democratic Front, proposed to make Kerala alcohol-free in 10 years. "The UDF has come out with a unanimous decision for a liquor ban in the state to achieve total prohibition,'' chief minister Oommen Chandy said.

In Kerela, 418 bars have been closed since April 1 as they had failed to upgrade to two-star facilities, won't have their licenses renewed.

Similarly, licenses of 312 functioning bars in the state won't be renewed after March 31, 2015. The government will also seek the legal possibility of terminating the licenses of these 312 bars immediately.

From April 1, 2015, only five star hotels will be granted bar licenses. The excise policy draft is mum on the status of 111 beer/wine parlors in the state, but sources in the UDF said they will be allowed to function. The no. of  five star hotels in the state are 23.

After putting a prohibition on liquor, the state would incur a loss of Rs 8,000 crore that is more than one-third of the state government's annual plan outlay.

The sudden rise of anti-liquor sentiments can be traced back to the tough stand the KPCC president took against the reopening of 418 liquor bars whose licences had expired. Religious organizations like the Catholic Church declared their support to Sudheeran and the chief constituent of the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF), the Indian Union Muslim League, also joined the cause.

Oommen Chandi said, the state has also decided to reduce the outlets of the government-owned Bevco, the sole retail distributor of Indian made foreign liquor in Kerala, by 10 per cent every year.