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“It is not right in God’s sight to obey men rather than God.”

Kerala’s liquor policy not negotiable, says chief minister Chandy

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Despite simmering discontent in various quarters, including many of his colleagues, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Wednesday said there will be no change in the state’s liquor policy.

“Abstinence from liquor and prohibition is the two-prong strategy that will make our state achieve total prohibition. Phased prohibition has been our ultimate objective and what we have done now is to set a time limit to achieve that,” Chandy told reporters here.

According to the new liquor policy of Kerala government, introduced last month, the remaining 292 bars in the state will close down Sep 12. The government has not allowed 418 bars to open this fiscal due to poor infrastructure in them. However, the cabinet meeting has decided to sanction Rs 5000 as financial aid for 7467 employees of the 418 bars in the state which were closed as part of the government’s new liquor policy.

The new policy allows only 20 five-star hotels in the state to serve liquor. From Oct 2 this year, all Sundays will be dry days. Out of the 383 state-owned retail liquor shops, 10 percent will close down each year paving way for Kerala to achieve complete prohibition by Oct 2, 2023.

When asked about the reservations on the liquor policy expressed by some of his colleagues in the cabinet, in his party and by many others, Chandy said, “During the decision-making process, I found myself alone on one side and all the rest on the other side (demanding prohibition). So I also joined the other side.”

Meanwhile, a section of the owners of bars which have not been allowed to open this fiscal have filed a petition in Kerala High Court.