The court heard a contempt petition over failure to comply with its orders to provide citizens with a dignified way to purchase alcohol at Bevco outlets.
The Kerala High Court on Thursday asked the State Excise Department and the Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco) to start thinking about providing walk-in facilities at liquor stores, instead of let people queue in the streets. Liquor retail outlets across the state include 301 outlets owned by Bevco and Consumerfed, in addition to 576 bars and 291 wine and beer stores. Several of them are located on busy roads and long queues in front of these outlets are common.
Considering a contempt of court motion, Judge Devan Ramachandran said orally: “No one wants a liquor store next to their home. It is a fact. There is no point in lying about it. But if liquor stores were like every other walk-in store, that would solve half the problem. The problem is, since these outlets are small and dingy, people are lining up in the streets, preventing women and children from safely walking around these areas. I don’t see why we bury our heads in the sand. It happens and we all know it. “
The court was considering the matter in a contempt petition over the failure to comply with the four-year court order to provide citizens with a dignified means of purchasing alcohol at Bevco outlets and at address the problem of overcrowding in front of these stores. . The Kerala government attorney informed the court that the Excise Department has taken small steps towards improving liquor stores in the state. The government has also informed that to avoid overcrowding of booths, online reservation services are also available. The case is scheduled for a new hearing on November 9.
A study of the profile of alcohol consumers in the state reveals that approximately 32.9 lakh of people, out of the state’s 3.34 crore population, drink alcohol. About five lakh people consume alcohol daily. Of that number, 83,851 people are addicted to alcohol, according to state government statistics. Incidentally, for Kerala, which is lacking in funds, the revenues from alcohol and beer are one of the biggest sources of its coffers and in the last fiscal year they have raked in over 15,000 crore rupees. .
Read: ‘Health is more important than income’: Kerala HC hits out at government over crowds at liquor stores