Kerala liquor policy liberalised
Kerala government on Friday liberalised its liquor policy by taking away the powers of local bodies to regulate setting up of liquor outlets.
Kerala Governor Justice P Sathasivam signed an ordinance making necessary amendments in this regard in the Kerala Municipality Act and Kerala Panchayat Raj Act.
Kerala government, which is expected to announce its new liquor policy soon, had decided to amend the Acts in order to implement the liquor policy uniformly across the state and to end discrimination between the present outlets and new applicants.
The amendment was brought in the Sect 447 of the Municipality Act and 232 of the Panchayat Raj Act, that gives power to local bodies to sanction liquor outlets.
Protest erupted over the government move with delegation of religious leaders and anti liquor activists including poetess Sugathakumari meeting the Governor and expressed their opposition to the ordinance.
Archbishop Soosa Pakiam, head of the Latin Catholic community, later told reporters that the government move was unfortunate.
"The government has cheated us. They have decided to open the bars through overt and covert means and the new ordinance should be withdrawn immediately", he said.
With the amendments to the Panchayati and Nagarpalika Acts, it would be easier for the Excise Department to open liquor outlets without getting the nod of local bodies, he said.
A delegation of Catholic bishops led by Archbishop Soosa Pakiam also met Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Joining the issue, Opposition leader in the assembly Ramesh Chennithala reminded CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury of his promise that if LDF comes to power, not a single closed bar would be re-opened.
Yechury had said this in April last year before the state assembly elections, Chennithala said in a letter asking him to keep his word.