KOCHI: The High Court on Wednesday asked the state government to spell out the criteria for granting brewery and distillery licences to private parties. The state replied that anybody can apply for the licence. The court also directed the state to file a statement within three weeks.
The court issued the order on a petition challenging the government’s decision to grant licences to private parties to set up three breweries and a distillery. The licences were granted without conducting an environmental impact assessment, especially with regard to the utilisation of groundwater. The land identified for one of the breweries is in Palakkad, which is already facing acute shortage of potable and irrigation water.
State attorney K V Sohan submitted that only previous sanction was given by the government and licences will be issued only if the manufacturers fulfilled various prescribed criteria. The state made it clear there is no criteria for granting previous sanction in the Abkari Act and Brewery Rules. The government stated that any person desirous of obtaining a licence for a brewery and to carry on compounding, blending and bottling of foreign liquor shall apply to the commissioner in writing. The commissioner shall forward the applications together with a copy of the entry to the government for orders.
He said the government granted previous sanction for three breweries and a distillery. It is issuing more licences, as 40 per cent of beer and eight per cent of IMFL are coming from other states. Other states are getting financial benefit as there are no adequate breweries and distilleries here. Out of the 19 distilleries functioning in the state, two are defunct. The petitioner submitted the licences were granted without floating tenders, which is against Abkari rules.