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Parties, church welcome Kerala liquor ban, drinkers unhappy
Tuesday March 31, 2015 11:23 PM, IANS

Political parties and the church welcomed Tuesday's verdict of the Kerala High Court allowing only 24 five-star hotels to serve liquor starting Wednesday -- but people who are fond of their drink were unhappy.

The high court on Tuesday upheld the liquor policy of the state government and dismissed a petition filed by the Kerala Bar Hotel Owners Association on closure of the 710 bars, including the 418 that have not opened since April 1, 2014.

State Congress president V.M. Sudheeran, a known anti-liquor activist, termed the verdict a historic one.

"Right from the time when K. Karunakaran headed the state, the policy of the Congress was to achieve phased prohibition. During A.K. Antony's time, he closed down all shops and now Oommen Chandy has come out with a policy which will take Kerala to complete prohibition in a decade's time. We are all very happy," Sudheeran told reporters.

Syro Malabar Catholic Church spokesperson Paul Thelekat also welcome the court verdict.

"Liquor has ruined the lives of many families and this is one real good decision of the present government and is going to be welcomed by numerous households," the priest said.

Pradeep Philipose, an advertising professional in the state capital, was clearly unhappy.

"You wait and see. The first repercussion would be against this Congress government. The tippler community will be fielding our candidate at the Aruvikara assembly constituency where bye-election is to be held soon. We may not win but we will be able to garner more than 10,000 votes," said Philipose.

Thomas Joseph, a farmer in Chief Minister Oommen Chandy's Puthupally constituency, said he does not like to stand in queues to buy liquor.

"We are told that the bars will not be serving liquor. The liquor we get here is synthetic. If we want the kick, it's the hard liquor that we want, and not always can we go and stand in queues at the state-owned liquor shops," he said.

Today, there are 344 state-owned retail liquor shops in the state.

K.P. Sasi, an IT professional, said it will now be "a test of one's patience, as the queues are going to be very lengthy".

"We don't know if this government has any sense, because nowhere in the world has prohibition become successful," he said.

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