Liquor ban in Kerala: Sunday brought cheer for Keralites as the state government led by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) gave its nod to re-open as many as 77 bars across the state which were earlier shut due to the stringent policy of preceding UDF government led by Congress. News agency ANI reported that 81 liquor bars had submitted applications to the excise department for the reopening, out of which, 77 were reopened. Most of these bars were Ernakulam-based, while Idukki had the least number. The report said that state government is also proposing to open local toddy shops that were sealed earlier. A number of customers, overjoyed by government’s new policy, said it was better to drink in bars than at home in front of their families. “We enjoy drinking on happy occasions. It is better that the government reopened these bars. Now we will not have to feel guilty about drinking in front of our children and leaving a negative impression in their minds,” Saji, a local, was quoted as saying by ANI.
Ajeesh, another local, expressed his belief that the government’s policy will help reduce the expenditure on liquor, adding that the old policy certainly did not curb liquor consumption in the state. Interestingly, a consolidated report on liquor consumption patterns in India showed that Kerala ranks highest in the list of alcohol consumption in the country, ANI reports. IT was even reported that people cross state borders to fulfill their requirements.
As per the new norms, the age limit for consumption of liquor has been increased from the 21 to 23. The government decided to reopen the outlets was taken after fall in state revenue and increase in the consumption of other intoxicant substances. As per a Press Trust of India report, UDF policy had resulted in the closure of 712 bars below the five-star category as part of its aim to ensure total prohibition over 10 years time. A majority of these closed bars were later converted to beer and wine parlours. The LDF government described UDF’s liquor policy as a “total failure and impractical” and made it clear that it was against total prohibition, but was for abstinence.