The decision to empower Panchayati Raj institutions to issue licence to liquor shops in the State has been misused by local bodies, Minister for Excise K. Babu has said.

Replying to questions in the Assembly on Monday, Mr. Babu said as many as 10 panchayats, one municipality, and one city Corporation granted bar licence after the government’s decision to empower the local bodies.

“We had good intention, and it was aimed at making the norms in granting the bar licence strict. But these local bodies have misused it,” he said.

On the request of the Excise Minister, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told the House that the Left Democratic Front (LDF) was against granting powers to the local bodies to issue bar licence. He said this was the policy of the LDF, and recent instances had revealed that corruption had become decentralised.

The Minister said the Excise Department was taking steps to make the hologram on liquor bottles foolproof and was incorporating suggestions from the intelligence wing. Volunteers of the National Service Scheme and Kudumbasree, Student Police Cadets, and residents’ associations had been roped in for the awareness programmes aimed at reducing liquor consumption.

Mr. Babu said the Kerala State Beverages Corporation had purchased Indian-Made Foreign Liquor from 10 private companies, including five from the State, for Rs.1,074.93 crore during 2011-12. The District Collectors had been asked to identify places to relocate the outlets of the corporation from congested areas and busy roads.

Minister for Home and Vigilance Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan informed the House that the government was taking steps to strengthen forensic laboratories and issue chemical certificates without any delay.

One more forensic laboratory would be set up in the State, and this had been stated in the Budget.