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Booze ban: A moment to ponder

Booze ban: A moment to ponder

The hullabaloo surrounding the government’s announcement of the closing of the bars within September 12 as a part of achieving total liquor prohibition in the state seemed to be deliberately created and is gradually starting to melt away.

The idea of new liquor policy apparently stemmed from the political contentions between Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and KPCC president V M Sudheeran, both vying with each other for reasons trivial. The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the government not to shut down the bars till September 30 and restrained the government from closing down the non five star hotel bars citing illogicality behind the move. The Justice panel comprising of Justices Anil R. Dave and U.U. Lalit also asked the government to follow Gujarat’s policy of banning alcohol completely if they were adamant on carrying out the policy rather than allowing the five star bars alone.

The liquor policy now turned into law was welcomed widely by the people particularly women. The alcohol consumption rate of Kerala is way too high bringing in huge revenue for the government. But it has also paved way to lots of drinking related issues including accidents, sexual abuses against women and shattering of families. A majority of the people empties their pockets into the liquor shops or the Beverages outlets across Kerala, the rate double or triple on festive occasions. Many leaders in the ruling party had opposed the move calling it “impractical” in a state like Kerala. Since Kerala has the highest per capita consumption of liquor in the country at 8.3 litres, it would face a loss of Rs 8,000 crore due to the prohibition which is more than one-third of the state government's annual plan outlay. The new ban would therefore put more pressure on the already staggering economy.

Total liquor prohibition in a state like Kerala is tough and risky since the scarcity would lead to illegal spirit flowing into the state. The alcohol lobby too would not approve of the latest decision of total prohibition and would try to hinder the process with equal backing from some leaders of the ruling party. The people in the ruling party would only be relieved after the Supreme Court’s decision for they, to an extent, have succeeded in achieving what they had wanted to attain without tarnishing their image. With numerous hassles posed as an obstacle in the way to achieving a complete “dry state”, the government, in the coming days, should carry out proper homework and adopt right decisions necessary to implement the law and to ensure the safety and interests of the public.

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