Marking the implementation of the new liquor policy of Congress government, Kerala on Sunday observed dry day.
Hence forth, Sundays would be dry days in Kerala, a step envisaged to bring down liquor consumption. All bar hotels and retail liquor outlets remained closed on Sunday, which would have been normally the wettest day in a week. Now Sundays would join the already existing 26 dry days in Kerala.
Owners of 312 bar hotels have contested the state liquor policy in the high court. They had claimed that the bars could operate on Sunday until the verdict of the high court. But, the state government took a tough decision to close down all bar and retails outlets on Sunday.
In many places, regular customers were seen hanging around the bars and outlets of the State Beverages Corporation expecting to get a bottle. It has been a practice in Kerala that touts stock bottles on the eve of dry days and sell the stock next day at exorbitant price.
Last week, the state had permanently closed down 39 retail liquor outlets in tune with the new policy that 10 per cent of the outlets would be wound up in every year. These outlets were picked from across the state. However, tippers had moved to other outlets, which had witnessed unusual rush in the last two days.
Meanwhile, the Beverages Corporation submitted a fresh affidavit on the sales figures in the Kerala high court, which is hearing bar hotel owners’ petition. The new affidavit said liquor sales had come down by one per cent after the closure of 418 bars since April this year.
Earlier, the Bevco had told the court that the liquor sales had gone up manifold in 312 bars and retail outlets after the closure of 418 bars since April this year. A section of Congress leaders had protested against this affidavit, saying it was meant to help the bar hotel owners. The bar hotel owners had alleged that since that 90 per cent of retail outlets remain open, the new liquor policy was targeted to spoil the hotel industry alone.
Subsequently, the Beverages submitted the new affidavit.