Kerala local bodies can give licence for liquor shopsDecember 1st, 2011 - 8:09 pm ICT by IANS
Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 1 (IANS) Following protests from anti-liquor campaign activists, Kerala Excise Minister K. Babu made modifications in the liquor policy that now empowers local bodies to give sanction for new bars, liquor outlets and toddy shops.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Babu said the government order to this effect has now come out.
“Soon after we announced the liquor policy a few months back, it had evoked strong protests from a section of political leaders and also Christian bishops. Taking that into consideration, we decided to empower the local bodies in the state to decide if a new licence is to be given,” said Babu.
Incidentally it was CPI-M leader, and then Finance Minister, K. Sivadasa Menon under the chief ministership of E.K. Nayanar (1996-2001) who revoked the rule empowering the local bodies and brought it under the Excise department which gave new licences for bars, liquor retail outlets and toddy shops.
“The cabinet will now decide if an ordinance to this effect be promulgated or wait till the next session of the assembly for this to become a law. If it is an ordinance it would take only a few days,” said a top government official on condition of anonymity to IANS.
Kerala today has 708 bar hotels, 383 retail outlets (all owned by the state government) and around 4,000 functional toddy shops in the state.
A furore was created by anti-liquor activists that the Oommen Chandy government is out to sanction any number of bar-attached hotels coming under the category of three-star hotels in the name of promoting tourism.
“In fact, this was wrongly interpreted by the anti-liquor activists because what we intended was that after this fiscal we would not give licences to any bar-attached three-star hotels. At the end of the next fiscal no four-star hotel with bars would be given and by 2014 only five-star hotels would get a bar licence,” said the official.
Anti-liquor activists are up in arms because in the last fiscal liquor sales touched a new high when it reached Rs.6,730.30 crore, up from Rs.5,539.85 crore in 2009-10.
Liquor sales provide precious revenue for the state government up from Rs.4,260 crore (2009-10) to Rs.5,239 crore in the last fiscal.
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Tags: anonymity, babu, chief ministership, christian bishops, CPI, e k nayanar, excise department, finance minister, five star hotels, furore, government official, liquor outlets, liquor shops, menon, oommen chandy, political leaders, retail outlets, sanction, star hotel, three star hotels