The much-awaited BevQ app in Kerala became available on the Google Play store late Wednesday evening. The beta version of the app managed to gather over 1 lakh downloads within a short span of its upload. It, however, has a 2.5 rating on the app store and several users raised complaints questioning the quality of the app.
Bev Q is a virtual queue application, a token generating service provided by the Kerala State Beverages Corporation Limited (Bevco) to ensure social distancing at liquor shops. Kerala is all set to resume the sale of liquor in the state through its 1,168 liquor vendors from morning 9 am to 5 pm starting Thursday.
The liquor vendors who have enrolled with the token generating app include 301 retail liquor vends belonging to the state-run Bevco and Kerala State Cooperative Marketing Federation Ltd (MARKETFED) besides 576 bars and 291 wine and beer shops.
However soon after its launch on the Google Play store, several users struggled to get a token.
Riyas Rawther who gave a one-star rating for the app said, "Long time for OTP. The OTP server might be overloaded. Please increase the performance. Also, try to detect the OTP SMS automatically. Pincode: try to detect the pincode by typing the first letters of the outlet and also by GPS for detecting the nearest outlet. It will be better to start with language."
Arun, another user complained, "Location issue is there. I have a nearby Beverages Outlet but the slot allotted for me is in a Bar away from my place. You should have to allot a specific number of tokens for each Bar & Bevco outlet and the consumer should have the option to select from where they buy rather than automatically allocating the slot. I doubt (suspect) that there is a game between government and bar owners."
Unni Krishnan, another user wrote, "The app decides the Date, Time and Point of delivery! If you are busy at that time, you don't have a choice to refuse the slot and ask for a different slot the next days... You are just *****ed for the next 4 days!! According to the app designers, you have nothing more important to do in life than buy alcohol!. Fools! (sic)"
Bookings over the app can be made anytime from morning 6 am to 10 pm. A person who has booked once from one mobile number can make his next booking from the same mobile-only five days later.
The State Excise Minister T P Ramakrishnan said on Wednesday, "Those who get the token on the mobile have to come to the vendors. All the health protocols including social distancing have to be maintained. At a time, only 5 people will be allowed to collect their supplies. Masks and use of sanitisers at these places is a must. There will be only parcel services where bottles would be packed and given from the bars, wine and beer shops. No table service will be there at bars, wine and beer shops where liquor would be served."
The minister said that 29 companies had come with a proposal for the virtual process and two committees of the state government short-listed five companies and finally Faircode Technologies was selected.
"Faircode has been paid Rs 2,84,203 for their services and if this is there even after one year, a fresh payment will have to be made to them. This service is available on all mobile and SMS services also are available for those who do not have a smartphone," said Ramakrishnan.
Ramakrishnan also denied allegations of corruption levelled by Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala about unfair play in selecting the vendor for developing the Bev Q app.
In this new set-up, the state government will soon come out with a similar delivery model to numerous licensed clubs across the state.
Sale of liquor and beer is one of the biggest revenue earners in Kerala. In the last fiscal, the southern state garnered Rs 14,504.67 crore on this count.
An earlier study conducted in Kerala revealed that around 32.9 lakh people - 29.8 lakh men and 3.1 lakh women - out of the state's 3.34 crore population consume liquor. Around five lakh people consume liquor daily. Of these, 83,851 people, including 1,043 women, are addicted to alcohol.
(With IANS inputs)