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Toddy over draught beer! Kerala launches restrictive excise policy

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The Kerala Government on Wednesday approved a new excise policy that aims to promote the toddy sector over modern breweries and draught beer pubs.

The Government that had earlier conceived the idea of promoting and issuing fresh licences to micro-breweries, draught beer pubs and extending the working time of pubs has gone back on the proposal in view of possible opposition from religious groups and toddy manufacturers. This was supposed to have generated employment opportunities in the state.

The new excise policy that will boost the toddy sector has the following elements in it:

The government has legalized the sale of food through the toddy outlets which was banned earlier.

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The upper extraction limits from coconuts has been increased from 1.5 litres to 2 litres.

The 200 metres rule that prohibited toddy shops from operating within 200 metres from educational institutes, religious places of worship and burial shops will now not apply to buildings from which toddy parlours operate currently.

An estimated 5071 toddy shops will go under the hammer for a lease period of three years soon. Current licence holders will get preferences, as far as permits are concerned.

The government has also increased the licence fees across the board and the following rates shall apply:

Ø Private member clubs who were charged Rs 15 Lakhs earlier will now have to shell out Rs 20 Lakhs.

Ø Bar hotels were earlier paying Rs 28 Lakhs will now pay Rs 30 Lakhs.

Ø Airport bar fees will now be at Rs 2 Lakhs as compared to Rs 1 Lakh earlier.

There is no change in conditions as far as granting of liquor licences to three star and five star hotels are concerned.

However, this policy has been criticized by all, especially the IT sector in the state that wanted a fillip to be provided to the night life in the state.

Many also feel that the state has lost an opportunity in creating employment opportunities that is the need of the hour in a state that has seen its residents returning from West Asian nations due to stricter immigration norms.

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