Kerala waters down liquor ban


A controversial decision to ban the sale of alcohol in the Indian state of Kerala has been modified by the state government.

In August 2014 plans were announced to ban the sale and consumption of alcohol in bars and shops, and introduce more alcohol-free days, including having a dry-day every Sunday.

Under the new legislation only Kerala’s 23 five-star hotels were permitted to serve alcohol in the short term. The end goal, chief minister Oommen Chandy said, was the total prohibition of alcohol by 2024.

Now Congress has decided to partially dilute the new policy in a move which Chandy said was taken to boost employment and, most importantly, to attract tourists – the state’s tourism industry having suffered since the introduction of the ban.

“Thousands of people have lost their jobs since the bars were shut down,” he admitted.

As part of the changes, Sundays will be withdrawn as dry days, and beer and wine licenses will be awarded to 418 bars, which had previously been forced to close.

Kerala has a per capita alcohol consumption of more than eight litres per year, making it India’s highest consumer of alcohol. The national annual average, by comparison, is estimated at approximately 5.7 litres per capita.

The move to ban alcohol came following reports of alcohol abuse serving as a factor in two-thirds of all crimes in the state.

While the levels of alcohol abuse in Kerala have caused concern, the state’s economy remains dependent on the industry, with more than 20 per cent of the annual budget coming from the sale of liquor.


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