K.P.M. Basheer

KOCHI: Liquor sales by the Kerala State Beverages Corporation, the State-run liquor trading monopoly, is set to cross Rs.5,300 crore this financial year, indicating a massive jump in liquor consumption in tiny Kerala with a resident population of about three crore.

Together with supplies from other sources, such as legal and illegal imports from other States, the total expenditure of the Malayalis on liquor in 2009-10 would go well beyond Rs.6,000 crore. This would mean a per capita consumption of Rs.2,000 worth of liquor.

According to a rough estimate, if women - the huge majority of whom do not drink - and men under age 18 are excluded, this would mean an estimated per capita expenditure of around Rs.6,000 by an adult male, which is much more than the per capita annual income of a sizeable chunk of Indian population.

“Going by the current trend in liquor consumption, we hope to sell Rs.5,300 crore worth of liquor this financial year,” says N. Shanker Reddy, managing director of Bevco. On the eve of Christmas, Bevco’s 337 shops across the State sold Rs.28 crore worth of liquor, thus setting an all-time record of Christmas sales. This is up from last year’s Christmas-eve sale of roughly Rs.22 crore. However, this year’s top sale figure was during the Onam celebration: on one single day, Bevco sold liquor worth Rs.34 crore.