Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government has risen the legal drinking age from 21 to 23 years. The State Cabinet, which met here on Wednesday, decided to amend the Abkari Act for the purpose.
The previous UDF regime had adopted a pro-prohibitionist policy by shutting down bars and closing state-run liquor vending outlets to reduce the availability of legal liquor.
A decision to promulgate an ordinance to make necessary amendments in the Abkari Act in this regard was taken at a cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here. A recommendation would be made to the Governor, Justice P Sathasivam, to issue the ordinance, an official release said. The cabinet also decided to enlarge the powers of the State Women’s Commission by making necessary changes in the relevant law, the release said.
It gave approval to a draft bill for the changes.The amendment envisages giving power to the Commission to summon any individual for taking a statement in connection with the hearing of a complaint. At present, the Commission has only the power to summon witnesses and ensure their presence during the hearing, the release said.
They feared that it would lead to increased alcohol abuse with its accompanying social issues. The Cabinet decision to raise the legal drinking age to 23 is perceived to be an attempt to blunt the criticism against the government.
Johnson. J. Edayaranmula, director, Alcohol and Drug Information Centre, said the new law would merely drive underage drinking underground.