Thiruvananthapuram: A Kerala Minister revealed that only an in-principle decision has been taken for opening of pubs in the state.
State Excise Minister T.P. Ramakrishnan, often known as the closest aide of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, told IANS on Tuesday that there is a lot of distance to cover for the in-principle decision to turn into a reality.
"The decision has been made and has been announced by the CM, but that does not mean opening of pubs in the state is round the corner. There is a lot of distance to be covered as it involves a discussion in the political spectrum besides formulating of rules and procedures for it," said Ramakrishnan.
The Minister was however non-committal on when the state would see pubs.
"A lot of things have to fall in place as we are today sitting on excise rules that were formulated long back. Pubs are different from bars and hence rules have to be formulated for it. The work for that will begin as soon as the present assembly session ends," said Ramakrishnan.
Explaining the need for pubs, Ramakrishnan pointed out it's a reality that Kerala's economy is dependent heavily on tourism and the information technology sector.
"In both these sectors, the need for pubs is essential, as it's an outlet for relaxation and demands for this have been rising," added Ramakrishnan.
Incidentally, the previous Oommen Chandy government had altered the liquor policy and when it demitted office in 2016, there were just 29 bars in the state, after it closed down over 700 of them.
Chandy had envisaged that closure of bars would be the best route to total prohibition to set in by 2023, but the Left government rode into power, when it assured that their policy would be, not prohibition but abstinence from liquor.
Senior IUML legislator N. Samsudeen of the Congress-led UDF called the Left's liquor policy "nothing but a bluff".
"They claim that their policy is of abstinence and if so, as on date there are over 500 bars in the state, up from 29, when they assumed office in May 2016. How can one profess abstinence by increasing the availability of liquor. Now again they say they practise the policy of abstinence, but have given the nod for opening of pubs. There is a total disconnect in what they say and what they practise," said Samsudeen.