THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : Seven months after 418 bars across the state were shut down, the State Government is yet to decide what is to be done with the thousands of cases of liquor remaining in these bars.
Although the Excise Department had issued orders to the Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco) to buy back the liquor, Bevco has replied that it could face trouble finding buyers. Bevoc bases its argument on a report of the ADGP Intelligence that the liquor stocks could have been tampered with and it was best to destroy it.
“There is no other option but to destroy it. We can’t inspect each and every bottle to see whether it has been tampered with or not,’’ a senior Bevco official said.
Announcing the new liquor policy in August, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had announced that the liquor stocks in the closed-down bars would be bought back by the State Government.
Of the 730 bars in Kerala, 418 bars have been remaining shut since April after the government declared them as sub-standard.
According to the Kerala Bar Hotels Association, IMFL, beer and wine worth above `100 crore had been idling in these closed-down bars.
“Stocks worth around `25 crore have been transferred to other open bars. But the remaining stock- worth `75 crore - is still there,’’ KBHA president Rajkumar Unni said.
“We will buy back the liquor. But we have not decided what to do with it after that,’’ Excise Commissioner Anil Xavier said.
Few Options for Department
In reality, the Excise Department has few options but to destroy the liquor in the light of the Intelligence report.
But that decision also is fraught with problems, according to Excise Minister K Babu.
“Bevco has written back saying it will have trouble selling the liquor. If we are to destroy it, we have to find a suitable space to do it. We also must deal with issues such as pollution,’’ Babu said.