As liquor outlets in Kerala remain closed, excise dept offers free counselling

All the retail liquor vends and bars in Kerala will remain shut till April 14.

Thiruvananthapuram: With all retail liquor vends and bars closing down from Wednesday, the Kerala Excise Department on Thursday announced that de-addiction and counselling centres will be offering free treatment and counselling services to persons suffering from physical or mental stress due to non-availability of alcoholic drinks.

This service can also be availed by calling the Excise Department's toll-free number 14405. The Excise Department has set up one de-addiction centre in one taluk hospital in each district to provide free treatment and counselling services.

Apart from these, de-addiction and counselling facilities are also functioning in Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode districts. These facilities will provide round-the-clock free service.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had come under criticism from the Congress and the BJP for not closing down liquor vends and it was only after the Central directive which did not mention that such shops be kept open, did Vijayan close them down.

On Thursday, he told the media that as soon as the retail vends were closed, hooch surfaced in the state and cases have been registered.

State Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said that this is a problem as withdrawal symptoms are tough to deal with.

Kerala government had decided to close all the retail liquor outlets across the state for 21 days, the entire period of the lockdown till April 14.

Beverages (Manufacturing & Marketing) Corporation Ltd's (BEVCO) 265 outlets and 36 outlets run by Consumerfed will be shut during the lockdown period.