Kerala to ensure effective execution of liquor ban

People set to lose jobs will have rehabilitation programmes

Kerala to ensure effective execution of liquor ban

A day after the Congress-led UDF recommended phased prohibition of liquor in Kerala over the next 10 years, the state government announced immediate measures to ensure effective implementation of the plan.

On Friday, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the 312 bars functioning in the state would be closed before the end of the year. “The government has received legal advice that there are provisions that allow closure of these bars,” Chandy told reporters here.

The UDF had on Thursday set March 31, 2015, as the deadline for closing down the 312 bars. The government has already closed 418 bars in the state over poor maintenance standards.

The chief minister said 34 outlets run by the state Beverages Corporation (Bevco) and five run by Consumerfed would be closed this year. Sale of liquor on Sundays will be banned from October 5 this year, the first Sunday after Gandhi Jayanti.

Programmes for rehabilitation of workers in bars and Bevco outlets set to lose their jobs will be implemented with funds raised through an additional five per cent cess imposed on Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL).

A fund – Kerala Alcohol Education, Research, Rehabilitation and Compensation Fund (KAERCF) – will be formed in this connection, Chandy said.

The ruling front’s decision on phased prohibition is also laced with brimming internal strife in the Congress party on the issue. Thursday’s developments had come as a surprise considering Chandy’s earlier non-committal stance on the re-opening of the 418 bars.

Political analysts have dubbed the “unanimous” approval for the prohibition plan Chandy’s masterstroke in cornering his critics within the party who had contributed to perceptions that the chief minister was, earlier, acting in favour of liquor lobbies.

Chandy said on Friday that he was “an open book” and any effort to brand him as pro-liquor lobby would fail. Meanwhile, the All Kerala Bar Hotels Association is set to challenge the prohibition move in court.

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