Thiruvananthapuram, April 22: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy Tuesday promised to launch a widespread anti-liquor/smoking/drug abuse campaign in the state, a Congress leader said.
State party chief V.M.Sudheeran however said the government was nmot planning to impose prohibition in the state.
Addressing the media Tuesday night after the party’s state executive meeting, Sudheeran said speaker after speaker emphasised that whatever gains the state has made in several social indicators is being spoilt by the state leading the country in per capital liquor consumption and also widespread use of other forms of intoxication materials.
“Chandy assured the meeting that very soon a joint task force comprising of the various key ministries – home, local self government, health, youth welfare, excise and social empowerment -would be set up and if necessary fresh laws will also be enacted to see how this menace can be tackled.
“The various non-governmental agencies who are involved in this work would also be invited to strengthen the awareness campaign besides the local bodies also will be playing an important role in this campaign,” said Sudheeran.
He however ruled out bringing in total prohibition in the state.
“In 1996, the then chief minister A.K.Antony went ahead with the bold step of banning arrack and in 2004, Chandy also took steps to see that the number of toddy shops be cut down. All these are the Congress’ policy of taking the route of what the Father of the Nation wanted,” added Sudheeran.
The Congress’ anti-liquor steps comes at a time when the state recorded a record turnover of Rs.9,300 crore in sales of liquor and beer last fiscal, up from Rs.8,818 crore during 2012-13.
By Wednesday, a broad consensus would be reached to finalise the new liquor policy of the state and also all eyes are on whether a decision would be arrived to reopen 418 bars, which was closed down last month, after they were found to be maintained improperly.