India's Kerala state plans to ban alcohol sales

Actor Mohanlal advertises for a brand of whisky in Kerala The government plans to enforce total prohibition in 10 years

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Authorities in the southern Indian state of Kerala have outlined plans to ban the sale and consumption of alcohol to tackle the state's drink problem.

The first phase of the ban would see more than 700 bars and as well as some shops selling alcohol shut down, with more alcohol-free days introduced.

The government aims to enforce total prohibition in 10 years.

Kerala has India's highest per capita alcohol consumption at more than eight litres per person yearly.

Doctors and activists have highlighted rising alcohol abuse, blaming it for many road accidents and even marital breakdown. They say hospitals and rehabilitation centres are packed with patients suffering from alcohol-related diseases.

Chief Minister Oomnen Chandy said the Congress-led government planned to make Kerala "liquor free" with a series of proposed measures in the coming months:

  • A total of 730 bars serving alcohol will be shut.
  • Sundays will be added to existing alcohol-free days on the first day of every month
  • Only luxury hotels will be allowed to serve alcohol from next year.
  • 10% of the 338 liquor shops owned by a state-run monopoly will be shut every year.

"The state should be prepared to accept total prohibition within this period [of 10 years]," he said.

Correspondents say businesses are worried that the proposed ban may hit tourism in the state. Kerala is the state which attracts the highest number of tourists in India.

Nor is it clear how the government plans to recover lost earnings from alcohol sales, which by one estimate accounts for more than 20% of revenues in the state's annual budget.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    I would be surprised if tourism is affected. People don't go to Kerala for drinking. They go to go on the houseboats, see the beautiful backwaters, watch kathakali dancers and see the elephant sanctuaries! We had an incredible time there, none of us or the other tourists were there to drink!

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    My British-Indian friend spent several months in Gujarat, a 'dry' state.

    He was able to buy illegal sugar cane rum, sealed into plastic baggies. Said it was delicious.

    Prohibition doesn't work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    I went to Kerala 15 years ago. Alcohol was banned then. G&Ts out of a tea pot on the beach.

    Not sure what happened in between. The problem they have is called modern society. It's a social trend that is on a downward trend in the UK.

    Prohibition is an old and fruitless response.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    Wow - this decision is ridiculous. It's quite unbelievable that governments don't learn anything from history.

    I traveled across India and I felt frustrated on behalf of India - a country that has so much potential, but is plagued by awful government & bizarre decisions such as this.

    As others have mentioned, this is a winning lottery ticket for criminals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    Being a Keralite living in England I have to answer some of the ignorant posts here -

    (i) Kerala's number one problem is and has always been alcohol consumption. It is a relatively rich state, with 100% literacy and a high life expectancy. People who comments about getting the priority right first should get their facts right.

    (Continued in next)


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