KERALA

Sudheeran flays revised liquor policy

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, MARCH 17. The Congress leader, V. M. Sudheeran, has said the new Excise policy of the State Government is violative of the assurances in the United Democratic Front (UDF) election manifesto. The policy is also indicative of the influence of the liquor lobby over the Government, he has said.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr. Sudheeran said the new policy would only increase the sale of liquor in the State. He said the Government was morally bound to protect people from falling prey to the bottle. The Government had a constitutional obligation to lower the consumption of liquor. However, this responsibility was not reflected in the Excise policy for 2005-06.

No political will

Mr. Sudheeran said that last year, there was an 18 per cent increase in the consumption of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) in the State. The unaccounted sale of illicit liquor alone amounts to more than Rs. 15,000 crores. The State was doing little to stop the inflow of illicit spirit.

He said the Excise department was the most corrupt arm of the Government. However, the Government could surmount all odds and stop the inflow of spirit if those in power had a political will.

Mr. Sudheeran said several recent studies had linked the high suicide, crime and divorce rates in Kerala to the increasing consumption of liquor. He said the UDF Government had "legalised 156 illegal bars" in the State.

The Government had also given permit for license holders to shift the location of the bar hotel at will, he alleged.

The Abkari Act was full of loopholes. Certain provisions that are not in the Act are present in the rules, he said. Mr. Sudheeran questioned the wisdom of preventing the police from inspecting bar hotels.

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