Thiruvananthapuram:  Taking a serious view of increase in liquor consumption  in the state, KPCC President V M Sudheeran has called for a strong anti-liquor drive led by heads of local bodies and Congress outfits to achieve party’s goal of total prohibition in a phased manner.

His letter in this regard to party outfits and presidents of civic bodies headed by Congress assumes significance in the wake of tussle between him and Congress led UDF government over renewal of licenses for more than 400 liquor bars lacking minimum standard.

The Kerala Pradesh Congress President wanted a powerful anti-liquor movement to take form in the state to wean people away from the influence of liquor.

He said panchayats, municipalities and city Corporations headed by the party should not sanction new liquor shops in areas under their jurisdiction and wanted them to prepare a time-bound action plan for an effective anti-liquor drive.

Sudheeran said liquor consumption and use of other narcotic substances has increased, resulting in problems relating to law and order, atrocities against women and children, breakdown of families, increase in sex crimes, murders, suicides and divorces.

“It is a matter of serious concern Kerala is in the number one position in liquor consumption,” he said adding another  serious problem was increase in number of youth in the below 21 age group consuming liquor.

Sudheeran also wanted a report to be prepared every three months on impact of the programme.

On Apr 30, a meeting between Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Sudheeran and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala to resolve differences in Congress on license renewal of over 400 bars was unresolved as it failed to reach an amicable decision.

As many as 418 bars across Kerala have remained closed for about a month due to non-renewal of licenses for lack of mandatory standards.

While Chandy was for giving a fixed time to improve facilities of bars, Sudheeran was opposed to it, saying bars of three stars and above should be allowed to do business.

Chennithala had also mooted a formula that licenses be given to upgraded bars and two-star bars, as per which 60-67 bars can be reopened, which was also opposed by Sudheeran.

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