₹117-crore liquor bought in Kerala ahead of Onam, says data
Liquor and lottery are among the major revenue earners for the Kerala. According to state data, in the last few years Kerala earns an annual revenue of ₹14,000 crore from liquor and ₹10,000 crore from lottery on average.
Liquor sales worth ₹117 crore were reported across Kerala a day before Thiruonam — among the most important days of the 10-day Onam festival period — according to data from the government-owned state beverages corporation Bevco.
The Covid-19 pandemic had hampered liquor sales during the festive season over the past two years. Last year, sales touched ₹85 crore on Uthradam, the day before Thiruonam, Bevco data that was released on Friday and reviewed by HT showed.
Liquor and lottery are among the major revenue earners for the state. According to state data, in the last few years Kerala earns an annual revenue of ₹14,000 crore from liquor and ₹10,000 crore from lottery on average.
According to Friday’s Bevco data, the week leading up to Onam saw a record alcohol sale of ₹624 crore, up from the last year’s ₹529 crore.
This year, Thiruonam was declared a holiday for Bevco outlets, prompting people buy stock in advance leading to high sales.
A spokesman of the corporation said the total revenue from the ten-day festival season is expected to cross ₹700 crore but added that definitive data will emerge only after September 11.
Revenue records of recent years released by Bevco show a jump of about ₹100 crore during the 10-day festival.
Taxes on alcohol are quite steep in the state — A bottle of rum produced at a cost of ₹100-150 is sold at Bevco outlets for ₹600-800.
The state’s per capita liquor consumption is 8.5 litres against the national average of 5.7 litres. According to last year’s national family health survey (NFHS) at least 18.7% of men in rural areas and 21% in urban areas consume liquor. The latest NHFS survey (2022), however, shows that the number of liquor consumers has been declining over the last five years.
Winding queues before Bevco outlets are a common sight in the state round the year. In 2021, the Kerala high court had pulled up the government and ordered it to provide proper outlets and convenience for those buying liquor.
Later, Bevco tried a system of home delivery for liquor but shelved it after protests from prohibition activists and church.
In 2015, the Congress-led United Democratic Front regime had brought significant changes in the state’s liquor policy allowing serving of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) only in five star hotels. The move had led to the closure of 700 bars and hotels across the state.
Later, some of these establishments were converted into beer and wine parlours but a Supreme Court order issued in 2017 on sale of liquor along national highways forced many of them to down the shutters again.