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Sober State: Govt Toasts a Dry Run

Aiming at bringing total prohibition in the state, Chandy announced after the crucial UDF meet on Thursday that  not one of the 418 bars closed  down in the state would be reopened.

Published: 22nd August 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd August 2014 11:27 AM   |  A+A-

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In the end, it was  Chief Minister Oommen  Chandy who had the last laugh.  Stealing the thunder from  KPCC chief V M Sudheeran, who had all along been advocating total prohibition in the  state, Chandy who was perceived by some quarters to be favouring the bar hotel lobby  turned the tables on his political adversaries by finishing  what Sudheeran had started,  seizing the opportunity and  scoring political brownie points  from an anti-liquor sentiment  that was slowly but surely gathering momentum.

Also Read: Chandy Steals the Show with Road Map for Prohibition

Aiming at bringing total prohibition in the state, Chandy  announced after the crucial  UDF meet on Thursday that  not one of the 418 bars closed  down in the state would be reopened. What’s more, 312 bars  which have been remaining  open in the state would have to  down their shutters. From  April 1, 2015, only five-star hotels will be eligible for bar licence. Which means no more  licences will be issued to three- star and four-star hotels in the  state. However, he said the government would seek legal advice on the issue as the government had collected licence fee  from these bars.

Also Read: Kerala, K'taka Excise Officials to Check Liquor Trafficking Jointly

The path-breaking meeting  recommended to the government to reduce the number of Bevco outlets by 10 per cent  every year so as to achieve total  prohibition in 10 years. He said  there was a general feeling  against allowing any more  Bevco outlets. In view of this,  the government had not opened  any new Bevco outlets after  coming to power. He said the  UDF had always been following  a policy that total prohibition  should be achieved in a phased  manner. Sticking to this line, the  meeting recommended to the  government to announce dry  day on all Sundays. As part of  spreading awareness against  liquor, one per cent of the income from Bevco will be utilised for a campaign.

Also Read: Measures to be Taken to Rehabilitate Bar Workers

Chandy  said efforts would be taken to  reduce the strength of the liquor being distributed though  Bevco. The traditional toddy  industry would be protected.  To protect the employment of  the toddy tappers, toddy shops  would be allotted only on the  basis of the number of coconut  trees and tappers. The Chief Minister said five  per cent of the Bevco’s income  would be utilised every year for  the rehabilitation of those rendered jobless. A rehabilitation  fund, Kerala Alcohol Education, Research and Compensation Fund (KAERCF) will be  constituted to help the addicts  and other people concerned. The Kerala State Beverages  Corporation (Bevco), the state- run monopoly on liquor sales,  runs 338 liquor shops in all in  the state at the moment. Of  them, seven are lying closed.

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