The decision to reverse UDF’s liquor policy has been met with mixed reactions.

Lifting spirits Kerala govt decides to reopen bars in three and four star hotels
news Liquor Ban Thursday, June 08, 2017 - 17:36

In Kerala, what the UDF proposes LDF disposes and vice versa. With regimes alternating like clockwork every five years, policy changes are nothing new in Kerala.

A meeting of the Left Democratic Front on Thursday decided to reopen liquor bars in three and four hotels that were closed down after the liquor policy brought in by the previous UDF government in August 2014.

The controversial and much debated upon policy by the UDF had allowed bars only in five star hotels. Overturning it, the LDF has decided to allow all hotels above three stars to open wine and beer parlours. 

Of course, all hotels will have to adhere to the parameters established by the SC regarding distance from highways. As long as they do so, they will have the freedom to operate bars or wine and beer parlours according to the rating of each establishment.

In 2014, the UDF government had also announced that it would shut down liquor beverage outlets run by state owned BEVCO. While 418 outlets had been shut down in October 2014, 312 were shut down in October 2015.
The LDF government had made it clear earlier that it would not shut down beverage outlets. Though according to the policy, the government was supposed to shut down 39 Bevco outlets in October 2016, Excise Minister TP Ramakrishnan made it clear that the government was against the closure.
The government has also decided to reconstitute the Toddy Welfare Board that looks after the welfare of toddy tapping workers.
The Congress has reacted sharply to the LDF’s decision. KPCC President MM Hasan called it a move to once again immerse Kerala’s population in liquor.
“There is massive corruption behind this decision.  It is a decision against the interests of the people and will have major repercussions,” Hassan said.
The abkari policy by the UDF in 2014 had made a significant dent in the state’s tourism sector with growth of foreign visitors coming to the state decelerating to 6% in 2015 from 7.6% in 2014. 
The LDF has maintained that the liquor policy had to be overturned to save the tourism industry that had plunged into a crisis.
Though Bar Owners Association has approached the Supreme Court against the policy, an apex court bench comprising Justice Vikramjit Sen and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh upheld the liquor policy in December 2015.

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