Thiruvananthapuram: There is delightful news for Kerala's tipplers. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has hinted at the possibility of the state allowing pubs at every nook and corner, so that drinkers can enjoy the spirit in a more convenient and comfortable ambience.
The chief minister's disclosure came in his weekly interaction on the electronic media, which he uses to communicate with the people on the lines of PM Modi's Mann Ki Baat.
Vijayan said that the move to open pubs is to cater to the needs of professionals like IT staff, who work late hours, but do not have the decent means to enjoy an evening after the day's hard work.
Currently, they have to go to a bar or stand in a queue at the state government-owned outlets of Beverages Corporation, which are notoriously long and crowded.
Kerala already holds the record for the highest per capita consumption of liquor in the country. According to published data, each Keralite consumes over 8 litres of alcohol per year, which is well above the national average of 5.7 litres.
A couple of pegs of hard liquor or mugs of beer are considered to be an essential part of the evening of an average Keralite, some of who are heavy drinkers. Their favourite drinks are said to include rum, whisky, brandy and beer.
In furtherance of court orders in the wake of high incidence of accidents caused by drunk driving, as well as domestic violence fuelled by alcohol abuse, severe restrictions had been imposed on the availability of liquor in the state in 2015.
As part of the policy, only five-star hotels bars were allowed to serve liquor. In the wake of court orders, restrictions were imposed on the availability of liquor in the state in 2015, which led to a huge hue and cry.
Hundreds of thousands of bar workers lost their livelihood as three and four star hotels closed their bars after they lost the licence to serve liquor.
The tourism and hospitality industry also cried foul, complaining that the lack of availability of liquor was affecting tourist traffic and foreigners were skipping the state in favour of other destinations.
In 20017, however, the policy was reversed after the Left Front government headed by Pinarayi Vijayan assumed office. Under the new policy, all 3 and 4-star hotels have been allowed to serve liquor and hundreds of bars, which had downed their shutters, have reopened.