KPCC president V.M. Sudheeran has urged the State government to frame a new liquor policy that places social interests above economic compulsions.

Inaugurating an anti-liquor workshop organised by the Trivandrum Social Service Society here on Saturday, he said the policy should aim at bringing down the accessibility to liquor. Observing that the influence of liquor on society had robbed the Kerala model of development of its lustre, he blamed the political leadership for the failure to address the problem.

Exhorting political, social, religious, student and youth organisations to join hands in the fight against substance abuse, he said, “Alcohol and drugs continue to exert influence on the younger generation and contribute to the rising crime graph, road accidents, family discord, and financial instability. Policy initiatives and administrative and legal action by the government have to be backed by a people’s movement against the menace.”

Employment option

Pointing out that the resistance to the anti-liquor movement was often centred on the loss of jobs, he said liquor outlets should not be seen as an employment option. Mr. Sudheeran stressed the need to appoint a credible agency to inspect the 418 bar hotels awaiting renewal of annual licence since April 1. The allegation about substandard bars being given licence would also need to be analysed. He said the decision to empower local bodies to grant licence for liquor outlets did not have the required effect. “To our disappointment, a few panchayats misused the decision to permit liquor shops while others saw this as an opportunity for corruption. Subsequently, the KPCC directed all Congress-held panchayats to deny sanction for liquor outlets and put up resistance to the opening of new outlets in local bodies where the party is in the opposition.”

In his presidential address, Archbishop of Thiruvananthapuram, Catholic Church (Latin rite), M. Susaipakiam said leaders across the political spectrum had come out to support the government decision to put on hold the renewal of licence for 418 bar hotels, only to criticise it in private. “They raise the bogey of illicit liquor to justify their criticism. The revenue loss to the exchequer from falling liquor sale is another concern they express,” he said.