India’s Kerala state moves to ban alcohol
Authorities in the south western Indian state of Kerala have announced plans to enforce a total prohibition of alcohol within 10 years in a bid to tackle the state’s apparent drink problem.
The plans, reported by the BBC, will see Kerala become alcohol free in 10 years, with the first phase of the ban prompting the closure of some 730 bars and increasing “alcohol free days” in the state on Sundays and the first day of each month.
As of next year April next year, only five-star hotels, of which there are 23 in the state, will be allowed to serve alcohol while 10% of the 338 Beverages Corporation (Bevco) liquor shops owned by a state-run monopoly will be shut each year, leading to total prohibition in 10 years.
Chief minister Oommen Chandy said on Thursday: “The United Democratic Front (UDF) has come out with a unanimous decision for a liquor ban in the state to achieve total prohibition.”
He added: “The aim is to achieve the target of a liquor-free Kerala in 10 years. We are fulfilling one more promise in the UDF manifesto.”
The recommendation will be ratified by the state cabinet, after which it will be have to be approved by the Kerala High Court, according to reports in the Times of India.
The changes are expected to cause a loss of Rs 8,000 crore – more than 20% of revenues in the state’s annual budget – while Kerala’s tourism industry, which attracts the highest number of tourists in India, is almost certain to be impacted.
Kerala has the highest per capita consumption of liquor in India at 8.3 litres, double the national per capita consumption of four litres, with the state’s doctors and activists in favour of prohibition blaming rising alcohol abuse for road accidents and increasing pressure of its hospitals.