THIRUVANTHAPURAM -- Following the recent directive of the Supreme Court that there should be no liquor outlets on national and state highways, the new locations decided for these shops in the state has come under fire from civil society.
Girl students of the Holy Angels Convent in the heart of the city here took to the streets Thursday after learning that there would be a new retail outlet of the state-owned Beverages Corporation (Bevco) near their school.
"We won't allow this to open and we will protest against the opening of it near our school," said a group of protesting school students.
Similar protests have begun across the state by locals at more than two dozen proposed Bevco outlets.
On Wednesday, trouble broke out near Kozhikode after an angry lady doused herself in Kerosene and was pulled back from lighting herself.
In December last year, the Supreme Court banned the sale of liquor within 500 metres on either side of national and state highways across the country, forcing around 300 such outlets comprising beer and wine parlours, five star hotels and state-owned liquor retail outlets to look for new places, as they have to move out latest by the beginning of the new fiscal.
In Kerala, liquor is currently served only in about 30 five star hotels and around 600 beer and wine parlours; it is sold through 334 state-owned retail outlets.
H. Venkatesh, Managing Director of Bevco, told reporters that the corporation has decided to move its affected outlets to new locations and when it does, it will follow all the rules and regulations.
"We are only following the guidelines as per the law of the land. The police can look into everything," said Venkatesh.
The profile of liquor users reveal that around 32.9 lakh people out of the 3.34 crore population in the state consume liquor, which includes 29.8 lakh men and 3.1 lakh women.
Around five lakh people consume liquor on a daily basis. Of this, around 83,851 people including 1,043 women are addicted to alcohol.
Now the ball is in the court of the Kerala government as revenue earned through sales of liquor accounts for a major chunk of revenue and the state government will soon have to take the call on how to stop these protests.
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