The CPI-M led LDF government in Kerala Thursday dismissed as "baseless" the opposition UDF's corruption charges in the sanctioning of new breweries and distilleries in the state.
The government had nothing to hide on the matter and all the decisions in this regard were taken in a "transparent" manner by following necessary guidelines, Excise Minister T P Ramakrishnan told reporters here.
The move was to enhance the revenue of the state and create more job openings but the Congress-led opposition was levelling corruption charges only to help outside state liquor lobbies, the Excise minister alleged.
The opposition was trying to create a "smoke-screen" by raising fabricated allegations against the government, he charged.
Alleging corruption in the sanction give for three new breweries and a distillery, the opposition UDF Wednesday demanded a probe into it.
Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala (Congress) had claimed the sanctions were given through the 'back door' without making any changes in the LDF's declared liquor policy.
He had also alleged that crores of rupees were taken as bribe to accord sanction for the units and demanded a comprehensive probe into it and sought an explanation from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Countering the charges, the Excise Minister said no distillery, producing liquor, was operating in the state at present.
The three breweries and a compounding blending and bottling unit were sanctioned after meeting all necessary guidelines in this regard, he said.
The government had given in-principle approval for three breweries in Kannur, Palakkad and Ernakulam districts, he said.
"At present, major portion of the beer and foreign liquor sold in the state is bought from outside. It causes huge financial burden to the state," Ramakrishnan added.
If the foreign liquor and the beer were produced within the state, its dependency on other states in this regard could be avoided. Besides, employment would be provided to several people, he said adding the state could also garner additional revenue.
The government had actually given "thrust to protect the interest" of the state through the decision, he claimed.
He also reiterated that the LDF government was not for total ban on liquor but abstinence from liquor.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)