Green signal for 3-star bars, toddy in hotels

In a passionate plea to Vijayan, Chandy said that this new policy is going to be detrimental to Kerala and it should be withdrawn.

The Left government in Kerala has moved to drastically dilute its predecessor's ban on alcohol by allowing hotels that are three-stars or fancier to sell alcohol. Preservation and protection of the livestock belongs to the State list in the seventh schedule of the Constitution.

The United Democratic Front (UDF) government had allowed the sale of hard liquor only in 5-star hotels and state-run Bevco outlets. Further, all the bars that were shut down along the national and state highways will be relocated to taluks in their vicinity. Star hotels should also be allowed to serve toddy in tourism sectors. The new policy will bring cheer to bar owners, who have been bearing the brunt of the stringent ban imposed by the previous government.

The state committee of LDF has asked the government to convert "Vimukthi" campaign of the excise department into a movement similar to the literacy movement and thus create awareness among the young generation on the ill effects of liquor and drugs.

Minimum age for liquor consumption raised to 23 from 21. "So it makes one suspect the role of big exporters behind the promulgation of such a rule which would bring the trade under their control", said Vijayan. "During elections we had made it clear that the LDF's policy will not be the same as that of the UDF". New license fee for liquor outlets (FL-1) will be Rs 4 lakh instead of Rs 3 lakh.

Earlier, the LDF had recommended the government to redraft the policy with the same suggestions.

The policy has already come under attack from the opposition Congress and the BJP.

The new policy would become effective from July 1, the Chief Minister said. Declaring the earlier government's alcohol policy a "complete failure", Vijayan said that though his government was not in favour of prohibition, they do not support "promotion" of alcohol either.

On June 2, the government had liberalized its liquor policy by taking away the powers of local bodies to regulate setting up of liquor outlets.

Kerala PCC president M.M. Hassan alleged that corruption was behind the government's decision and said it was the result of an "illicit relation" with the liquor lobby.

There has been a wide opposition of the central government's order, with many states openly denying accepting the notification.

  • Leroy Wright