Indian State Bars Issuing New Alcohol Licences Following Pressure From Catholic Church

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“A day after the Catholic Church in Kerala hit out against the re-opening of the closed liquor bars, the government on Sunday clarified that no new liquor outlets, beer and wine parlours would be opened in the state.

Reports that new outlets would be opened in the light of the Supreme Court verdict was baseless”, Excise Minister T P Ramakrishnan, told reporters at Kozhikode.

On the basis of the apex court verdict relating to the matter, the government had issued the order allowing re-opening of liquor outlets, bars, beer and wine parlours to re-open in panchayats with a population of 10,000 from April two.

“No new liquor outlets and bars will be opened following the supreme court verdict, the minister said, adding, “the Left Democratic government’s policy is abstinence and not prohibition”, he said.

The Government has launched ‘Vimukthi’ (Kerala state mission for de-addition) to conduct awareness campaigns against alcoholism and drug abuse and that was showing results, he said.

On the basis of the apex court order, 171 beer and wine parlours, six retail outlets, three defence canteens and 499 toddy shops will be opened, he said.

The Catholic Church in the state had taken strong objection to the government decision, saying it was “anti-people”.

Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Thamarassery, Mar Remigiose Inchananiyil, had said yesterday that the government decision was another ‘Ockhi disaster’ in the making.

The bishop had said the coming Chengannur assembly byelection would be a referendum of the LDF government’s decision on the new liquor policy and the move was a violation of poll promises given by the front during the assembly polls in 2016.

The opposition Congress led UDF and BJP had also criticised the government for its decision to re-open closed liquor outlets.”

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