Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan has said the best way to bring down liquor consumption will be to change the working hours of all foreign liquor outlets, including the retail outlets of the Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco).

In a statement here on Sunday, Mr. Achuthanandan said such a measure would be more effective than banning tapping and sale of toddy. Any ban on toddy tapping and sale would have long-term serious consequences.

More effective would be a change in the working hours of all foreign liquor outlets. The government should also take the observations on the subject made by the Kerala High Court into consideration when taking a decision on the issue, he said.

Mr. Achuthanandan pointed out that a ban on toddy tapping and sale would render thousands jobless and affect coconut cultivation adversely. It would also deal a terrible blow to coconut growers who were already reeling under a major crisis.

While it was true that spurious toddy was being sold in many parts of the State, the effective way to curb the menace was not to enforce a wholesale ban on the sale of toddy.

The government, he said, should take stern action to curb sale of adulterated toddy. The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government had entrusted running of toddy shops with workers’ cooperatives to prevent the sale of spurious toddy.

The United Democratic Front (UDF) government had reversed this decision and returned the shops to contractors. If toddy was banned on the ground that artificial toddy was being sold in many parts of the State, it would result in illicit brewing and large-scale sale of spurious liquor.

Rather than banning a centuries-old vocation and its product, the government should try to protect the industry by conducting raids to unearth adulteration and other unhealthy practices.

Toddy was lighter and less dangerous than most other alcoholic beverages. Any move to ban toddy tapping and sale was unacceptable, Mr. Achuthanandan said.

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