THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Emphatically reversing the previous UDF regime’s alcohol ban, the Pinarayi Vijayan government on Thursday rolled out its much-awaited liquor policy allowing hotels in the category of 3-star and above to sell liquor.
The State Cabinet approved the policy and it would come into effect from July 1. But it contained some strict measures like raising the minimum drinking age to 23 and cutting short the working time of bar hotels.
Terming the Chandy government’s prohibition ‘total failure’ and ‘impractical’, Pinarayi said the new policy focused on abstinence from liquor. He said elaborate steps, including de-addiction centres at all districts, model speciality de-addiction centres and strengthening the Vimukthi mission, have been planned.
Announcing the policy, Pinarayi said total liquor ban has not been successful anywhere. “We honour the sentiments of those who ask for prohibition of alcohol. But that cannot be practically implemented in Kerala,” Pinarayi said. The faltering state tourism industry too played a major part in government taking the call. The sector, a major revenue earning area, had taken a severe beating post the liquor ban, in turn crippling the state exchequer.
The policy also proposed to sell toddy at hotels with 3-star classification and above. The government has also proposed to set up a Toddy Board to ensure jobs in the sector. The government made it clear the new policy would be implemented without confronting the court.
“The government will fully abide by the SC order on liquor outlets along the National and State Highways,” he said.
The beer/wine parlours which were operational till April 1, 2017, can operate 500 metres away from the National/State Highways in the same taluk provided steps be taken to rehabilitate all the employees.
However, no decision has been taken to give permit to new Bevco outlets. The government has also abolished the UDF policy to shut 10 per cent of liquor outlets every year.
Shaken & stirred
Bar licence (FL 3) for 3-star hotels and above.
Restaurants with FL 3/FL 11 licences can serve liquor at banquet hall after remitting a special fee.
Other licences - including FL 11 for beer/wine parlours - will be given to eligible applicants.
Liquor outlets along SH/NH, which were closed after SC order, can be relocated within the taluk where parlours can be operated.
Minimum age for liquor consumption raised to 23 from 21.
Foreign liquor to be made available in domestic lounge of international airports. Now, it’s available at the international lounge.
Toddy board to be set up in the state.
Three-star and above category hotels to sell toddy.