Liquor bars will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. in panchayat areas and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. in the limits of municipalities and Corporations.

Liquor bars will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. in panchayat areas and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. in the limits of municipalities and Corporations under the Excise policy announced by the government.

Three-star hotels, including those in tourism zones, will no longer be eligible for bar licence.

Only four- and five-star hotels will be allowed bar licence from 2012-13, while only five-star hotels will get it from 2013-14. In the case of heritage hotels, the policy calls for a review of the restrictions on issuing bar licence. New bars will be issued licence only if they observe a distance limit of three km from another such outlet in panchayat areas and one km in municipal and Corporation limits.

The policy, released to the media on Tuesday, prescribes a fresh cap of 15 litres on the quantity of liquor that can be kept in possession by an individual. The age limit for buying and selling liquor has been raised from 18 to 21 and scenes of drinking in cinema will have to be accompanied by the mandatory health warning against alcohol consumption.

The policy seeks to protect the toddy-tapping industry as a traditional, labour- intensive sector employing 40,000 people, while preventing the manufacture and distribution of illicit toddy.

The society mechanism in the management of toddy shops will not be allowed in the current year also. The shops will be permitted only on group basis. However, auction will be held in range or taluk basis in Thrissur taluk.

A mobile laboratory will be pressed into service in the southern districts this year to check illicit toddy sale. More such units will be deployed in other areas. Model toddy shops will be established in all districts.

As part of its corporate social responsibility programme, the Excise Department proposes to introduce dialysis facilities at the district level and to finance de-addiction centres from next year. Local bodies will be drafted into the campaign against alcoholism.

The Kerala State Beverages Corporation expects to contribute Rs. 6,000 crore to the treasury this year in the form of tax and surcharge.

It says all Abkari establishments, including five-star hotels, will be freed from the control of local bodies.