Liquor industry in Kochi in a state of shock

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‘Around 130 beer and wine parlours may have to be shut down or relocated’

KOCHI: Liquor industry in the district went into a tailspin, with the Supreme Court on Friday making it clear that the ban on liquor outlets alongside State and national highways was applicable to beer and wine parlours and bars as well.

The FL-11 licence holders operating beer and wine parlours in the district were in a state of shock as they were under the impression that they would be spared, and that the apex court ban would be restricted to liquor outlets alone. The State government was also largely supportive of them and had instructed the Excise Department to initiate measures to renew their licences despite the initial order of the Supreme Court on roadside liquor outlets.

According to Excise Department sources, around 130 out of the 179 beer and wine parlours in the district will have to be shut down or relocated.

“We were going ahead with steps to renew the licences of beer and wine parlours though we had not renewed a single licence in the district. Now, we will wait for fresh instructions from the Excise Commissioner before taking action on licence renewal,” said A.K. Narayanankutty, Deputy Excise Commissioner.

Apart from beer and wine parlours, six out of the 11 bars in hotels rated five star and above in the district will also be hit by the apex court verdict.

“This was unexpected. The association is exploring the possibility of filing a review petition. With the court direction coming into force straightaway, the functioning of all affected beer and wine parlours will be hit from Sunday itself as Saturday is a dry day. Their stocks will also have to be shifted,” said Jose Pradeep, district president, Kerala Bar Hotels Association.

“Thousands of workers, both direct and indirect, will be left jobless once the verdict takes effect,” Mr. Pradeep added.

According to him, the tourism industry in the district will virtually come to a standstill in the wake of the verdict. “It is almost like banning alcohol,” he said.

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