Kerala bar owners to seek legal redress over liquor prohibition
The Kerala Bar Hotel Association Sunday decided to seek legal redress against the state government's decision to make Kerala a dry state with a new liquor policy.
The decision was made Sunday at the owners' meeting in Kochi Sunday.
The government, which Friday finalised the new liquor policy, will submit to the Kerala High Court Aug 26, a roadmap to achieve total prohibition in the next 10 years.
However, state Congress president V.M. Sudheeran Sunday said this can be achieved only if the various government departments do their jobs well.
He said the people's support is also needed for this to become a reality. He denied criticising Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on this aspect and also denied that he has become a loner in his party.
"This is not at all true. This decision has been arrived at the United Democratic Front meeting," said Sudheeran.
As per the new policy, the state government will close down, in phased manner, the 312 bars that are open currently while 418 are already closed as their licences have not been renewed due to lack of infrastructure.
From the next fiscal, only the five-star hotels in the state will serve liquor. Also, from Oct 2 this year, all Sunday's will be dry days. Out of the 383 state-owned retail liquor shops, 10 percent will close down each year.
"Yes, we are aware there are practical problems. But we have decided to go ahead and we will see that this becomes a reality," said Chandy.
However, fears over an increased flow of illicit liquor into Kerala have increased.
"We will do everything possible to see that all security aspects are taken care of," said Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala Sunday.
While former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan termed the new policy as a gimmick, his party state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan said a study should be conducted to study the effects of prohibition.
"I am happy the government has taken this bold decision. I am more happy that they have announced that efforts would be stepped up to increase production of toddy (palm and coconut)," said a homemaker from Chandy's Puthupally constituency who did not wish to be named.
(Posted on 24-08-2014)