Kerala

No need for app to buy liquor in Kerala

The Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco), the State-owned liquor retail monopoly, has allowed customers to purchase liquor without booking their slots in advance via the dedicated mobile phone application (BevQ).   | Photo Credit: H. Vibhu

The Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco), the State-owned liquor retail monopoly, has allowed customers to purchase liquor without booking their slots in advance via the dedicated mobile phone application (BevQ).

On March 25, the Kerala government had enforced total prohibition as part of the Centrally mandated COVID-19 lockdown regulation.

A few weeks later, the State government reviewed the situation. It found an upsurge in the sale of bootleg liquor and home-made brews. Moreover, at least two persons had committed suicide and several diagnosed with physical and mental illness due to alcohol deprivation.

The government soon allowed the limited sale of liquor to persons who produced a medical testimonial that they could not do without their daily alcohol fix.

In May, the Centre relaxed the total ban on the sale of liquor. The Kerala government resumed the legal sale of alcohol.

However, it insisted that liquor outlets serve only customers who have booked their slots in advance via the BevQ app. The mobile phone application assigned individual buyers a specific time to collect the liquor as takeaways from the nearest liquor store, bar, or beer and wine parlour. The obligatory condition helped the government prevent long lines and the usual hustle and bustle in front of liquor stores during the contagion’s early days.

However, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) said the government had selected an inexperienced startup to develop and profit from the BevQ application.

It demanded a Vigilance inquiry into the “opaque” tendering and selection process. The company stood to gain less than 50 paise for every liquor purchase executed via the application.

Without app too

As the “unlock” process began, Bevco outlets and bars focussed on increasing sale. Soon, customers could purchase liquor from several outlets even without a BevQ slot. The government realised that the application had served its purpose and became redundant. Moreover, the electronic hurdle had impacted liquor sale.

Kerala has, arguably, the highest per capita consumption of alcohol in the country. The sale of legal liquor is a significant source of State revenue. In the pre-pandemic fiscal, Bevco raked in ₹14,504.67 crore from the sale of branded liquor, beer and wine, a raise of ₹1,567.8 crore from the previous financial year.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 4:27:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/no-need-for-app-to-buy-liquor/article33590776.ece

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