Following the recent directive of the Supreme Court that there should be no liquor outlets on national and state highways, the new locations decided for liquor shops in Kerala have drawn the ire of the masses.
Students of the Holy Angels Convent situated in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram took to the streets on Thursday, after learning that there would be a new retail outlet of the state-owned Beverages Corporation (Bevco) near the school.
"We won't allow this. We will protest against such a move," said a group of protesting school students. Similar protests have begun across the state by locals at more than two dozen proposed Bevco outlets.
On Wednesday, trouble broke out near Kozhikode, after an angry lady doused herself in kerosene and had to forcefully be prevented from setting herself on fire.
In December last year, the Supreme Court had banned the sale of liquor within 500 metres on either side of the national and state highways across the country, forcing around 300 Beer & Wine parlours, five-star hotels and state-owned liquor retail outlets to look for new places by the beginning of the new fiscal.
In Kerala, liquor is currently served only in about 30 five-star hotels and around 600 Beer & Wine parlours and sold through 334 state-owned retail outlets.
H. Venkatesh -Managing Director of Bevco- told reporters that the Corporation has decided to move its affected outlets to new locations, abiding by all the requisite rules and regulations.
"We are only following guidelines, as per the law of the land. The police can look into everything," said Venkatesh.
The profile of liquor users reveal that around 32.9 lakh out of the 3.34 crore population in the state consume liquor, which includes 29.8 lakh men and 3.1 lakh women.
Around five lakh people consume liquor on a daily basis. Of this, around 83,851 including 1,043 women are addicted to alcohol.
Now the ball is in the court of the Kerala government, as revenue earned through sale of liquor accounts for a major chunk of revenue. The state government will soon have to take a call on the increased number of protests with regard to the relocation of these outlets.