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Kerala Gets A New Liquor Policy, IT Parks To Serve Beer

Considering the shortage of beer in the state, the Kerala government plans to issue more brewery licences. A slew of other proposals have been outlined in the new liquor policy, including a hike in licence fees.

Brewery licences are only issued to eligible candidates, according to existing regulations. Currently, beer production centres are located only in Chalakudy, Kanjikode, and Cherthala, with licences issued to hotels based on a three-star rating.

IT Parks To Serve Beer

Liquor will be served in ‘specially designated areas’ within IT parks, according to the liquor policy of the LDF government for 2022-23. This is a long-pending demand from the IT sector.

A statement from Excise Minister MV Govindan’s office said there have been complaints that employees and visitors to IT parks lack leisure avenues after work hours. “A special licence will be issued for serving liquor in IT parks under strict conditions,” it said.

It was reportedly due to opposition from within the LDF that the word ‘pub’ was not mentioned in the IT park plans.

To replace the retail outlets that were closed earlier, premium liquor outlets will be opened as per the liquor policy. Retail outlets will also be de-crowded. ‘Walk-in’ facilities will be added to more liquor outlets to modernise them.

No More Plastic Bottles

The policy stipulates that liquor will no longer be available in plastic bottles from 2023-2024. In order to promote the use of recycled glass bottles and cans, no brand registration fees on alcohol sold in them will be increased.

Track And Trade

A one-time settlement scheme (amnesty scheme) is being launched to give full interest exemptions and principal relaxations for the collection of abkari debt. Track and trade system will be put in place for monitoring the toddy production and inter-district and inter-range movement of toddy.

The liquor policy also states the Kerala State Beverages Corporation will start industries and other businesses associated with liquor manufacturing.

Fines To Be Increased

● The fees for manufacturing liquor in distilleries in Kerala, foreign liquor (blending and bottling) units and for manufacturing liquor with the cooperation of similar establishments outside the State, will be increased from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.

● The fine charged as per the Foreign Liquor Rule 34 will be increased from the existing Rs 15,000 and Rs 50,000 to Rs 30,000 and Rs 1 lakh respectively.

● The fee for registering own brands of distilleries in Kerala has been raised from Rs 75,000 to Rs 1 Lakh.

● The brand registration fee for distilleries from other states that manufacture their liquor in Kerala has been raised from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 4 lakh.

● The licence fee for the Covid period, during which bars, beer parlours and clubs had to halt operations following government orders, will be deducted in next year’s licence fee.

Tourism And Jobs

According to the liquor policy, premium liquor outlets will be opened in place of the retail outlets that were closed down earlier. Steps will also be taken to reduce crowding in retail outlets. More liquor outlets will be modernised by introducing a ‘walk-in facility’.

The new liquor policy also stresses the need to ensure the availability of liquor in tourism destinations. “In MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Conventions and Events) tourism areas, availability of liquor cannot be avoided,” the official statement said. According to sources, the majority of the new premium outlets proposed to be opened would come up in tourism destinations. Increasing the local production of liquor has been proposed in the liquor policy as domestic production cannot meet the consumption of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) or beer in the state.

Setting up more liquor production units will generate jobs, the policy states. Manufacture of low-alcohol liquor from locally produced fruits such as cashew, pineapple, jackfruit and banana will be encouraged. Brewery licences will be sanctioned for eligible applicants as per existing rules.

De-addiction Initiatives

The liquor policy also lays stress on initiatives to promote abstinence and de-addiction. New de-addiction centres will be set up in all districts. Centres will be set up for the rehabilitation of people who have undergone treatment for alcohol addiction.

Vimukthi Mission will launch awareness campaigns with people’s participation to promote abstinence. Anti-narcotics campaigns involving students in schools and colleges will be strengthened. ‘Nerkkoottam’ and ‘Shraddha’ committees set up in medical colleges to discourage the use of drugs and alcohol will be extended to all professional colleges, the policy states.