With the clock ticking down for the Kerala Beverages Corporation (Bevco) to relocate around 180 of its liquor outlets away from highways before April 1, the Kerala police is stepping in to offer protection to the relocated outlets.
State DGP Loknath Behera has reportedly issued orders to the police chiefs of all 14 districts to provide protection to the relocated outlets. The order comes days after Bevco Managing Director H Venkatesh approached the top cop following resistance from people across Kerala to the relocation of outlets to residential areas.
With the relocation meeting stiff opposition from residents in many parts of the state, with protests spilling onto the streets, Bevco reportedly had to down the shutters of many relocated outlets.
While speaking to TNM earlier, Reverend Father Baby – Director of the Adivasi Naattarivu Gaveshana Padanakendram – who spearheaded the agitation in Wayanad, said that they intend to continue the protest till the end of March.
For many of the residents in localities where liquor stores would be shifting to, security is the primary concern. 39-year-old Sreelatha, a resident of Eachom in Wayanad for instance, said, "The proposed building is located at a place that is a pick-up-and-drop point for school children. My home is hardly 200 metres away, where I stay with my two kids. With my husband away in the Gulf, can the authorities guarantee that shifting the outlet here will not pose any security issues to us residents?"
Managing Director of Bevco, H Venkatesh, had earlier told News18: "We have followed all the rules under the Abkari Act before identifying new places. We have followed the necessary distance required, about 200m from educational institutions and temples and 500m from national and state highways. If we don't follow all this, the excise license will not be provided to us. We have identified places according to the law."
The relocation of Bevco outlets follows a Supreme Court order in December last year mandating that all liquor outlets must maintain a distance of 500 metres from national and state highways, in order to reduce drunkn driving and road accidents. According to reports, Bevco has 270 outlets across the state.