Ruling LDF government trying to drown Kerala in alcohol through new liquor policy: UDF

The liquor policy also intends to increase the number of bars and outlets of the state-run beverages corporation (Bevco) in Kerala.

ByPTI

Published Sep 13, 2023 | 12:08 PM Updated Sep 13, 2023 | 1:52 PM

UDF criticises Kerala's new liquor policy

On Tuesday, 12 September, the Congress-led Opposition accused the ruling Left Front in Kerala of trying to drown the state in alcohol through its new liquor policy, an allegation denied by the LDF which claimed that the sale and consumption of liquor were higher during the UDF rule.

Senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged that there was not only an inordinate delay of over seven months in coming out with the liquor policy, but the rules were also aimed at increasing the availability of alcohol in the state by increasing the number of breweries and distilleries.

‘Increasing availability of alcohol’

He said that the LDF government, on the one hand, was coming out with a “Vimukthi” campaign against the use of liquor and narcotic substances, particularly by school students, and yet, on the other hand, was increasing the availability of alcohol in the state.

“What purpose would it serve? You are creating a dangerous situation. I warn you for the future generation of Kerala. It (the policy) would only lead to the state being drowned in alcohol,” Chennithala said.

Additionally, the policy also intends to increase the number of bars and outlets of the state-run beverages corporation (Bevco) in Kerala, he contended during discussions on the Abkari Act (Amendment) Bill.

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‘Reduction in alcohol consumption’

The Bill aims to decriminalise a couple of offences with regard to advertisements encouraging alcohol consumption for the purpose of ease of doing business, State Excise Minister MB Rajesh said during the discussions.

Rajesh also refuted the allegations of the Congress leader by citing data from the “Magnitude of Substance Use in India” report of the Union government.

He said that according to the figures in the report, the percentage of alcohol consumption and drug use in Kerala was below the national average.

Rajesh also contended that there has been a reduction in alcohol availability and sales during the seven-year-long LDF rule, compared to the UDF regime before that.

The minister further said that even the number of outlets in Kerala was only around 300 as compared to the several thousands in the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

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Promotion of traditional toddy

Regarding the delay in coming out with the liquor policy, Rajesh said that it was not the first time, as such delays have occurred several times during the UDF rule as well.

The Bill was taken for consideration and the amendments suggested by members of the House were rejected by the minister. The state Cabinet had approved a new liquor policy for 2023-24 on 26 July.

The policy also promotes the production and sale of traditional toddy across the state and proposes to manufacture the maximum quantity of foreign liquor and beer within the state.

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