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No timeframe for opening new beer, wine parlours

No timeframe for opening new beer, wine parlours

Thiruvananthapuram: No time frame has been fixed for the opening of new beer and wine parlours, Excise Minister K. Babu said Tuesday.

Following the decision of the Kerala government last week to tweak the liquor policy, 418 bars that have not been opened since this fiscal, can if they desire, be converted to wine and beer parlours.

"We have not fixed any time frame when they will open," Babu told reporters here.

A report of the accountant general in 2009 had highlighted the unhygienic conditions in the 418 bars. Due to the unyielding stand taken by state Congress president V.M. Sudheeran these bars were not allowed to open this fiscal.

But following huge public outcry over the new liquor policy announced by the Kerala government in August, and serious difference of opinion surfacing between Sudheeran and the rest of the ruling United Democratic Front allies, the Oommen Chandy cabinet last week tweaked the liquor policy and allowed the 418 closed down bars to convert into wine and beer parlours.

The Kerala Catholic Bishop Conference (KCBC), Tuesday came down heavily on the Chandy government for going back on the liquor policy and said that those in power had succumbed to the money power of the liquor industry adding that they (KCBC) would take a strong position against this government in the coming elections.

Hitting back at KCBC, state Information Minister K.C. Joseph asked them to introspect as they have no moral right to criticise the state government.

"The KCBC should first find out the religion to which those who sell and consume the maximum amount of liquor belong to. Also they should look into which communities functions liquor is served in good quantities...," said an angry Joseph.

Incidentally, it's the Christian community who owns a sizeable number of bars in the state and when it comes to consumption also, the Christian community in Kerala which stands third with under 23 percent of the 32 million population, leads from the front.

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