Thiruvananthapuram: In a move sure to raise the spirits of Keralites amid talks of “tweaking” the state liquor policy, an apex cooperative body’s chairman on Thursday said liquor would be made available online from Onam next month.
M. Mehoob, chairman of Consumerfed (Kerala State Cooperatives Consumers’ Federation Ltd.), said it would make 59 brands of liquor available online from Onam festival, which comes in the second week of September. We are also willing to operate a liquor supermarket in Kozhikode, if we get the licence,” Mehoob told reporters in Kozhikode.
Consumerfed is the apex body of consumer cooperatives and has 36 retail liquor outlets in Kerala. The state’s present liquor policy, which comes into force at the beginning of every fiscal, was formulated by the previous Oommen Chandy government, as per which liquor is available only at two dozen five-star hotels in Kerala. The previous government had closed down more than 700 bars in the state in 2014 and 2015.
During Chandy’s rule, no new liquor outlets were opened but rather more than 60 retail outlets were closed. On Thursday, Tourism Minister A.C. Moideen told the media here that liquor should be made available at tourist destinations in Kerala.
Tourism has been affected on account of the present liquor policy. A lot of investment in the tourism industry is suffering due to a drop in tourist arrivals,” said Moideen. Excise Minister T.P. Ramakrishnan too has spoken of what he called a “flawed” liquor policy and dropped enough hints that it will be tweaked.
“To save the industry, the Tourism Department is doing its bit and other departments will also do their bit,” said Ramakrishnan. But state Congress President V.M. Sudheeran, the ‘chief architect’ of the liquor policy in force in Kerala, told reporters in Delhi on Thursday that it was becoming abundantly clear that the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist had entered into a deal with the liquor lobby.
Ahead of the May 2016 Kerala assembly polls, there was a secret deal between the CPI-M and the liquor lobby. Developments in the past few days on the liquor front prove it,” Sudheeran said.
“The Tourism Department figures for 2015 show that arrival of international and domestic tourists to Kerala grew by five and eight per cent respectively. So, how can the government say that tourism has suffered?” Sudheeran asked.