The Andhra Pradesh government will promote beer as a “healthier option” than other forms of liquor. It will set up beer parlours that will serve locally-brewed beer with less alcohol content, state Prohibition and Excise Minister Kothapali Samuel Jawahar said on Monday. In another decision, the state has also banned names of gods and goddesses for liquor and wine shops across the state. Jawahar said beer is healthier than other types of liquor because it has lesser percentage of alcohol, and therefore, the government would promote its consumption more than other forms of alcohol, he said.
“I am not saying it is a health drink but it is healthier than other drinks and we will introduce locally-brewed beer with far less alcohol content than branded ones. We cannot change people’s habits of drinking but we can at least try to make available drinks that have less alcohol,’’ he told The Indian Express. The new state excise policy of 2017 came into force on Monday, according to the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court to shut down all liquor vends within 500 metres of national and state highways.
The state cabinet also decided to denotify portions of highways passing through cities as urban or major district roads, removing them from the ambit of the Supreme Court guidelines. However, the government has not renewed licenses of 800 bars and liquor shops that are located on the highways. At other places, the shops are being relocated to outskirts of cities.
“We took the decision to redesignate highways passing through cities after studying the policies of Odisha, West Bengal, Karnataka, Telangana, and Rajasthan,’’ the minister said. There are approximately 2,000 liquor shops and 275 bars on highways in Andhra Pradesh, according to the Prohibition and Excise Department.