Thiruvananthapuram, June 9 : Though the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala government’s new liquor policy allows closed down bars in three and four -star hotels to open, over half of the around 800 such hotels would be unable to benefit, as they have been hit by the apex court’s guideline barring liquor vends within 500 metres of state or national highways.
The bar owners have urged the state’s CPI-M-led LDF to approach the Supreme Court seeking relaxation of its directive besides permitting all the star rated hotels located within 500 metres of highways to open a permit room where they can serve liquor.
As per latest statistics, of the 815 such star (three and four -star) rated hotels, 474 will be unable to open bars, following the apex court’s guideline.
“Yes, we have raised this demand with the government. It’s not a practical solution to shift the hotels away from the state or national highways, and hence we have asked for permission to open a permit room where we can serve liquor which is located away from the prescribed distance mentioned by the apex court,” said V.M. Radhakrishnan, a hotelier who owns a few star rated hotels.
Meanwhile, the Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference, which has been going hammer and tongs against the new liquor policy, has already announced that they would seek legal recourse against this policy.
Kerala Excise Minister T.P. Ramakrishnan on Friday said the strong anti-liquor lobby, fighting against the liquor policy, should be genuine in their demands.
“I say this because I know people who are activists when it comes to anti-liquor campaign, but they themselves consume liquor and this is hypocrisy,” Ramakrishnan said at a meeting here.
Former employees, who worked in bars and lost their jobs, have welcomed the new liquor policy whole-heartedly.
“It was tough for many of us who worked in bars for the past two years as we had no steady jobs. Now, we feel we will get our jobs back and we are really waiting for the bars to open,” said a group of former bar employees in Thrissur.
The new policy comes into effect from July 1.