Kerala tells bar hotels to shut down by Sept 12

Kerala tells bar hotels to shut down by Sept 12

The Kerala government will begin issuing notices to bar hotels to shut down by September 12.

Excise Minister K Babu on Tuesday told reporters that based on the advocate general’s advice, the excise commissioner would issue revocation notices to proprietors of bar hotels that are functioning in the case to end operations in 15 days.

The decision, taken after a high-level meeting called by the minister on Tuesday, will leave bars open during the festival season of Onam – traditionally, a season of high liquor sales in the state – during the first week of September. 

The government had earlier closed 418 bars based on recommendations by an expert committee on maintenance standards followed in the bars.

Babu said the government would take back unsold stocks from the bars and licence fees paid by proprietors–running close to Rs 40 crore–would also be returned.

 Of the 732 bar hotels in the state, 20 fall in the five-star category and will be allowed to function despite the government’s plan for phased prohibition over the next 10 years.

The minister said the road map ahead for the prohibition plan would include more awareness campaigns and inclusion of alcoholism-related issues as a subject in school curricula. 

“The use of narcotic drugs is also posing a new challenge. Amendments to existing rules have to be made to tackle the issue… we are lining up a meeting with the Narcotic Control Board in this connection,” he said. 

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday observed that the government should make amendments to its new liquor policy and take measures to upgrade the policy as a law. The court is set to hear appeals against the government’s new liquor policy on September 17.

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