The Cabinet has approved the terms of reference of the one-man commission M. Ramachandran looking into the State Abkari policy, Excise Minister K. Babu said here on Friday.

The commission, appointed by the government last week, will formulate the measures, criteria, and parameters for a comprehensive Abkari policy, keeping various court orders in view, with the ultimate objective of achieving a ‘liquor-free Kerala.’

The commission will review the bar licences already issued under the Foreign Liquor Rules and suggest measures for legal remedies to overcome the difficulties in achieving the objective of reducing the availability and consumption of liquor. The commission will suggest means for reducing the consumption and availability of liquor such as stipulating distance limits between bar hotels, opening liquor outlets in the vicinity of educational institutions, playgrounds, and other institutions, and timing of operation of bar hotels.

Methodology

The methodology for measurement of distance from educational institutions and places of workshop to bars and definition of place of workshop will be examined in the light of court judgments and measures suggested to make it realistic.

It will review the yardsticks or criteria for issue of FL3 licences for the promotion of tourism, in the context of the guidelines issued by the Central government and the present structure of classification of hotels.

The terms also specify that the commission shall review the FL3 licences now in operation without two-star classification and suggest measures for streamlining the procedures for renewal or transfer of licences, reconstitution of partnership, and shifting of those bars. The current Abkari Act and Rules are to be reviewed in tune with the objectives of the policy.

The commission will propose measures to overcome the present situation of no-takers for toddy shops in certain districts, in the context of the demand for production of Neera from coconut farmers. It is to examine the present system of group licensing of toddy shops and suggest measures to eliminate chances of benami operations in the toddy sector. The commission has been asked to suggest measures to introduce liquor with low alcohol content.

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