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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

Pro-liquor lobby in Kerala goes into a huddle

PTI  Thiruvananthapuram, August 23, 2014
First Published: 14:54 IST(23/8/2014) | Last Updated: 15:27 IST(23/8/2014)

With the Kerala government deciding to close all the 730 bars in the state to bring about prohibition in a phased manner, the pro-liquor lobby has gone into a huddle on how to handle this situation.

Chief minister Oommen Chandy, who Friday finalised the new liquor policy, will submit to the Kerala high court Aug 26 a road map that the state government has formulated to achieve total prohibition in the next 10 years.

Biju Ramesh, the working president of the Kerala Bar Hotel Association, told IANS that the only option before them is to seek legal redress.

"Tomorrow (Sunday), we are having a general body meeting to discuss the latest developments and we expect to come to a firm decision on how to move forward in the light of the state government's decision," said Ramesh.

However, from the next fiscal, liquor would be available only in around 16 five star hotels operating in the state and the 344 state government owned retail outlets.

The target date when Kerala would be declared a complete dry state has now been fixed as Oct 2, 2023.

However, office bearers of the South Kerala Hoteliers Forum at a meeting Saturday decided that they would not seek legal recourse against the government's decision.

"We have decided to meet the chief minister to air our genuine grievances...," said a member of the forum, who did not wish to be identified.

Meanwhile, the Kerala state hotels and restaurant association will meet August 28 to discuss the issue.

"We have close to 20,000 members and even though only less than 10% of our members have a bar, we are sitting down to take stock of the situation and we expect to come out with our decision on August 28," the association's president G Sudeesh Kumar said.

The ruling Congress and its ally the Indian Union Muslim League have congratulated the Chandy government on its decision to ban liquor in the state.


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