Kerala to turn dry state by 2023?

While CM Oommen Chandy will submit a road map to Kerala High Court on how it plans to achieve this target, hoteliers’ forum plans to voice its grievances

Thiruvananthapuram: With the Kerala government deciding to close all the 730 bars in the state to bring about prohibition in a phased manner, the pro-liquor lobby has gone into a huddle on how to handle this situation.

From the next fiscal year, liquor will be available only in 16 five-star hotels in the state and at 344 state government-owned retail outlets. REPRESENTATIONAL PIC

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who finalised the new liquor policy on Friday, will submit a road map to the Kerala High Court on August 26 that the state government has formulated to achieve total prohibition in the next 10 years. Biju Ramesh, the working president of the Kerala Bar Hotel Association, said that the only option before them is to seek legal redress. “Today, we will have a general body meeting to discuss the latest developments and we expect to decide on how to move forward,” said Ramesh.

However, from the next fiscal, liquor will be available only in around 16 five-star hotels operating in the state and the 344 state government-owned retail outlets. The target date to declare Kerala a complete dry state has now been fixed as October
2, 2023.
However, office bearers of the South Kerala Hoteliers Forum at a meeting on Saturday decided that they would not seek legal recourse against the government’s decision. “We have decided to meet the chief minister to air our genuine grievances,” said a member of the forum, on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, the Kerala State Hotels and Restaurant Association will meet on August 28 to discuss the issue. “We have close to 20,000 members and even though only less than 10 per cent of our members have a bar, we will have a discussion by Aug 28 to decide the road ahead,” the association’s president G Sudeesh Kumar said.

The ruling Congress and its ally the Indian Union Muslim League have congratulated the Chandy government on
its decision.

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