Excise Minister T.P. Ramakrishnan on Thursday said the LDF Government's liquor policy would focus on abstinence to bring down the consumption of liquor gradually even while reiterating that the closed bars would not be opened. Mr Ramakrishnan told DC that the government would soon launch a people's campaign to create awareness.
"We are for abstinence. Our efforts would be directed at reducing liquor consumption in society in a phased manner. As far as shut bars are concerned, there are many which are functioning as beer and wine parlours. So we have to look into all these aspects before taking a decision on our policy. People will be taken on board for state-wide campaign,'' he added.
The LDF leadership believes that not even a single bar had been closed in the state. Most have been converted into beer and wine parlours where beer and wine with high alcohol content was being sold. According to Left leadership, spurious liquor was being supplied through various outlets.
Moreover, a number of studies had pointed out that the use of drugs, psychotropic substances were growing alarmingly in the state. Houses, vehicles have turned into bars rendering the previous government's liquor police totally ineffective.
“CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury had also made it clear the Left Government's policy would be to further reduce the impact of liquor consumption in Kerala society which has already demonstrated new social problems. The efforts would be aimed at further reducing liquor consumption," he added.
Making the first announcement after assuming the office and putting the concerns about the excise policy of the new government to rest, the government has declared that it has no intention to reopen the closed bar hotels.
Talking to reporters, excise and labour minister T P Ramakrishnan said here on Thursday that the government will not reopen the closed bar hotels. He said that the governments policy was to reduce the consumption of liquor. For this, the government will launch mass campaign. He said that the LDF had declared its stance in the manifesto, from which the governments policy is clear.
Though there are promises in the manifesto on alcohol and curbing the drug menace, the promises are too shallow without any concrete framework, even the excise department officials feel. According to excise officials, the consumption of drugs has easily increased for two reasons- less availability for alcohol and ready and cheap availability of drugs like ganja. Officials say that a detailed survey will have to be undertaken to find out the intensive users of drugs, who will have to be subjected to medical treatment.
The officials in the cutting edge level in the filed have found that the users of drug themselves are later becoming the sellers. So the officials say that unless the distribution chain is cracked down at the root, the awareness or a peoples movement for awareness will become futile exercise.
Meanwhile, there are also sources who believe that the government might adopt a new liquor policy from the next financial year, that would give more stress on awareness campaign and not prohibition, that may lead to relaxation of current policy of not granting licenses to any hotels below five-star category.