KOCHI: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Thursday said the Finance Department would be instructed to release funds for the anti-liquor campaigns initiated by the Excise Department.
The Chief Minister was speaking after inaugurating a function organised by the Kerala State Beverages Corporation (KSBC) and the Excise Department here to distribute braille laptops and white canes to visually challenged persons. The project was funded by the KSBC’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
Fisheries and Excise Minister K Babu, who presided over the function, had brought to the notice of the Chief Minister that the Finance Department was not releasing funds for the awareness programmes initiated by the Excise Department. “The Finance Department has been maintaining a stubborn attitude while around `300 crore collected for the programme, by way of cess, remained in the treasury,” said Babu.
The Excise Minister said it was the UDF Government that recognised the role and responsibility of the government in creating awareness against liquor.
Since its inception in 1984, the KSBC has contributed `70,000 crore to the State exchequer. But, none of the previous governments bothered to spend on awareness programmes or CSR projects. The UDF Government has scripted history in this regard. The KSBC’s CSR schemes were formulated at the instance of the Chief Minister,” said Babu, and announced the KSBC’s `10-crore aid for the proposed Kochi Cancer Centre.
“As many as 500 braille laptops will be distributed among visually handicapped persons selected from all districts. They will be distributed during the tenure of the current government. In phase-I, 245 laptops will be distributed,” he said.
The Minister claimed that the liquor policy introduced by the State Government was effective. “The policy has caused huge financial loss to certain people. Such people have turned against the government with the support of individuals with vested interests. But, the government will not surrender before them,” added the Minister.
MLAs Hibi Eden, Benny Behnan, Ludy Luiz and Dominic Presentation; K V Thomas MP; district panchayat president Asha Sanil; Excise Commissioner X Anil; District Collector M G Rajamanickam; Federation of the Blind district president K J Varghese; KSBC managing director H Venkitesh and Joint Excise Commissioner D Santhosh also spoke.