Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government has reduced the minimum distance limit of bars from 200 meters to just 50 meters.
As per the earlier rules, bars and liquor shops were not allowed in 200 meters distance of schools, places of worship, and dalit and tribal colonies. The 'safe’ distance is measured from gate to gate.
The rule has been relaxed for four- and five-star hotels and heritage bars.
Until 2011, the minimum distance limit for the bars attached to hotels of four-star and above categories was 50 meters. Following widespread protests, the distance limit was increased to 200 meters.
Former KPCC president V.M. Sudheeran, who played a pivotal role in formulating the previous UDF government's liquor policy, has slammed the order.
"This is government's Onam gift to bar owners. The government is not with the people, but with the self-financing managements, land mafia and liquor barons,” he said in a Facebook post.
However, Kerala excise minister T.P. Ramakrishnan said that the distance rule was brought back to revive the ailing tourism sector in the state.
Bars in Kerala: now and then
• The number of liquor outlets functioning in the state during the last phase of UDF rule: 306 state-controlled liquor outlets, 29 bars, 813 beer and wine parlors and 4,730 toddy shops.
• March, 2017: 306 state-controlled liquor outlets. 30 bars, 815 beer and wine parlors and 4,234 toddy shops.
• After the SC ban on liquor sale on highways: 281 state-controlled liquor outlets, 25 bars, 285 beer and wine parlors and 3,520 toddy shops.