Thiruvananthapuram: The much awaited opening of the toddy shops in Kerala on Wednesday turned out to be a damp squib due to non-availability of toddy.
Many who waited in the queue had to return without being able to get their favourite local drink, which has been not happening since the lockdown came into effect.
There are close to 3,590 toddy shops in the state, and in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Kannur, shops did not open as there was no liquor to be served.
On Wednesday, those shops which opened had to close it down soon after their stock of toddy arrived and was sold in a flash as in most shops the availability was only around 20 litres.
As per the new rule, not more than five persons will be allowed at a time in a shop and the timings also have been restricted from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Besides that, no toddy or food will be served in the shops and each person will be given only 1.5 litres as parcel.
The Ernakulam district has 550 toddy shops of which just 50 shops opened.
"We were waiting in the queue and in an hour it was closed as by then the toddy got over. We were told that may be during the course of the day, stock might arrive from Palakkad," said a tippler expressing his displeasure.
"We just got 50 litres and it was over in a flash," said a supplier at a toddy shop in Kochi.
At Palakkad the police had a tough time to control the crowd and in a shop the police turned chased away those who came to the shop without wearing a mask.
The guideline is in all shops is that the staff and those in queue have to wear masks and have to maintain the social distancing norms.
At Kozhikode also, the scene was no different, those who opened had to down shutters quickly.
Incidentally, the Excise department officials across the state are keeping a tight vigil in all these shops to see that there is no foul play in the distribution of toddy.
"We are keeping a close watch in all the shops as the availability of toddy is less. It will take a few days for the regular supply to take place," said an excise official.