The Government of Kerala has announced a new liquor policy, allowing bar licences to restaurants in hotels of three-star category and the sale of toddy in these.
It said the liquor policy of the previous Congress-led government, which allowed a bar licence to only hotels at the five-star or above category, was a failure. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, while announcing the policy, said the previous one was impractical and led to growth of the illicit liquor business.
Toddy is a local liquor from the coconut tree and tourists are said to be interested in tasting it.
Besides, restaurants with FL-3 and FL-2 licences may supply liquor in banquet halls by paying a special fee. The age limit for consumption of liquor has been raised from the current 21 years to 23 years.
While it has decided to implement the Supreme Court’s order to end liquor sale and supply within 500 metres of any state or national
highway, those outlets existing in these areas before April 1, 2017, would be allowed to open again in the permissible area beyond 500 m from these roads, in the same taluk.
The timing of outlets has been reduced by half an hour to 12 hours, except for tourist destinations. The government, said Vijayan, believes stopping of liquor consumption has to be achieved but not through complete prohibition.
of bar licences to three-star and above hotels has affected tourism, which in turn affected the state’s revenue,” said the CM. Almost Rs 8,000 crore of the state’s annual revenue has been from liquor sales and the policy amendment by the earlier government in August 2014 had hit this.
The new policy immediately drew severe criticism from the Congress-led UDF
alliance and Christian priests. Vijayan said the government could understand the concerns of the latter but prohibition would only lead to the illicit liquor trade and related challenges. The government would, he said, strengthen de-addiction centres and activities leading people to abstain from consumption.
Of the earlier 815 beer and wine parlours, 474 have closed and of the earlier 306 outlets of the state consumer cooperatives federation and the state beverages corporation, 96 had closed. As were 924 toddy shops. The total job loss was around 40,000, he added.