Tipplers rejoice as wine shops in Kerala set to open on Thursday
The long wait of tipplers in Kerala is finally over with the state government giving its nod to an app to supply alcohol through the state-run Beverages Corporation outlets and bar hotels from Thursday.
Liquor outlets in the state were closed on March 24 when the first round of lockdown was imposed in the country. But a few days into the lockdown, wine shops had briefly opened for some days before the government shut them down for good.
Later the state government had asked startup firms to develop an app to ensure hassle-free supply and zeroed in on one, ‘BevQ.’ The selection had also its share for controversies as the opposition alleged a kickback in the contract.
The new app can be accessed from Google playstore and there is an SMS service option for those who don’t own a smartphone. Once logged in a time slot will be given to the customer and not more than five people will be allowed at a time. Once the location is identified, the app allots the nearest outlet to the user. Nobody without an e-token will be allowed to buy alcohol.
“We have tested the app several times and are satisfied with its functioning. Customers will have to ensure social distancing norms strictly. We will keep a strict watch on all outlets,” said excise minister T P Ramakrishnan.
A customer can buy a maximum of three litres of alcohol at a time and can log in only after five days. He said there was no plan for home delivery now.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also said the new app will ensure a hassle-free supply.
“Three cheers. We were left without it for more than two months. I will store my stock on the first day itself,” said a regular drinker . But he was sceptical that an unusual rush may force the government to backtrack.
All outlets - 301 state beverages outlets, 576 bar hotels and 290 beer and wine parlours - came back to life after authorities allowed stocking of bottles.
Last year the state earned Rs 14,500 crore from liquor. On an average the Beverages Corporation sells liquor worth Rs 40 to 45 crore a day. Excise duty on liquor is between 300 per cent and 500 per cent in the state which means a Rs 100 bottle of rum in the brewery will cost Rs 400 to Rs 500 in the market.