Ban on Alcohol in Kerala

Ban on Alcohol
Ban on Alcohol

Ban on Alcohol in Kerala

The Congress-led United Democratic Front Government has decided to make Kerala a alcohol-free state in 10 years. There has been lot of debate going on regarding this matter. The decision was taken by the Government with an objective of preventing people from becoming addicted to alcohol, becoming alcoholics, doing harm to their lives and of others as well, especially among the labour class.

Do you think the solution to alcoholism is a ban on alcohol?

There are conflicting views on controlling alcoholism. Kerala is not the first state to implement alcohol ban. Prohibition in alcohol is already existing in the state of Gujarat since 1960, Nagaland since 1989, Manipur since 1991, Mizoram since 1995, including the Union Territory Lakshadweep.

Kerala is India’s largest consumer of alcohol followed by Punjab. As per statistical figures available, while the national average of alcohol consumption per capita is 4 litres per annum, Kerala is in the top slot with 8.3 litres per annum. It is also mentioned that more than 14% of the consumers belong to the category of daily wage labourers. As a result, alcohol-related diseases are also mounting in the state. Though the ban has not taken effect officially, steps have already been taken and alcohol prohibition will be implemented in a phased manner. The state has not renewed the licences of 418 bars since April 1 2014. At present, there are 312 functioning bars in the state and their licences too won’t be renewed after March 31, 2015. Only the 23 5-star hotels in the state will have permission to have bar licence from April 1 2015.

Loss in revenue and adverse impact on tourism

No doubt this ban will bring about a major loss in revenue in terms of excise duty and might even affect the tourism industry as beach without booze is no fun. But, the decision makers have pointed out that in the long term, the Kerala state will benefit from this ban. Kerala Mahila Congress vice president said that the government is not worried about revenue loss as of now as they are spending more on the problems that are emerging in the state due to alcoholism. The basic aim is to solve the problem of alcoholism, which is leading to other problems like domestic violence, anti-social events, accidents, including severe health problems and deaths. Ban on alcohol is a step to make the state better and more prosperous in due course of time. Some other political leaders have also supported this ban because in Kerala, it is seen the labourers who consume alcohol spend most of their earnings on it and there is a gradual deterioration of health.

Former Gujarat minister Jay Narayan Vyas has supported this ban and cited Gujarat as the perfect example of a prosperous state, in spite of being a dry state for the last so many years. On the other hand, there is another section of political leaders as well as the citizens across different platforms who are totally against prohibition. According to this section, when India is rapidly progressing towards economic growth, banning is not a solution of problems. Whoever wants to drink will get a bottle from somewhere. It will in fact increase bootlegging. Alcohol consumption is not a crime. Rather steps should be taken to stop alcohol abuse, to make people aware of the evil effects of alcoholism. Prohibition is no solution.

Now let’s have a look at how the other dry states are operating?

  • Gujarat: You can consume alcohol in Gujarat, only if you are a permit holder. NRIs and foreigners should get 1-month liquor permit at designated 5 star hotels. Tourists can buy a liquor licence from the Gujarat Tourism Department counter located inside Ahmedabad’s airport. The permit is always for 1 month. If it exceeds 1 month, visitors will have to apply for a non-resident permit.
  • Lakshadweep: The only Union Territory of India where there is a complete ban on sale and consumption of alcohol. Tourists are also not allowed to bring any alcohol from outside before getting into the islands.
  • Manipur: Here, consumption and sale of alcohol is totally banned but local brews, like ashaba and atingba are allowed.
  • Mizoram: In 1997, Mizoram Liquor Total Prohibition Act prohibited the sale and consumption of all alcohol in this state. In 2007, MLTP Act was amended and now it has legally allowed with strict rures, the manufacture, sale, and consumption of wine made from guavas and grapes. However, it has prohibited the sale of local wine outside the state.
  • Nagaland: In 1989, Nagaland Liquor Prohibition Act called for a total ban on alcohol sale and consumption. However, India-made foreign liquor (IMFL) and local brew ‘Zitho’ are quite popular in Nagaland and easily available in confectionery, grocery, garment shops, restaurants and hotels.

Thus it is seen that total prohibition is actually not followed in all the dry states mentioned above. It is said that in the North Eastern States, illegal sales continue and many authorities like the police officials are involved in bootlegging. In Gujarat, people drink at home but for the fear of law, nobody comes out of home and the crimes that arise due to alcohol, automatically are low in the state.

Though, prohibition of alcohol is not a complete solution, but yes, to a certain extent, we can say that ban on alcohol can reduce alcohol consumption. Maybe such a step by the Government will reduce the problems arising due to alcohol consumption like health issues, deaths, car crashes, domestic violence and marriage problems.