The latest attempt at prohibition in Kerala began two years ago in the form of a Congress government initiative. Some of us at Swarajya had clearly warned about the futility of it all at the time. We had pointed out that Kerala had the highest per capita consumption of liquor in the country at 8.3l – more than double the national average of 4l.
Such a prodigious level of consumption will hardly lend itself to prohibition.
On the contrary, it is more likely to drive alcohol sales underground while creating massive opportunities for a thriving black market. Kerala registered Rs 8,433 crore in revenues from bottle sales, excise duty and commercial tax in 2013-14. This comprised approximately 22 per cent of the state government’s total revenue.
We had also warned that tourism might suffer – considering Kerala made a staggering Rs 23,000 crore in tourism (2013-14). And as it turns out, this is precisely what happened.
In a to the Kerala assembly, a government minister has admitted that state tourism might be suffering because of regressive policies on alcohol. He said that "there is a situation where tourists who drink regularly, and business delegates are opting for other states or countries because liquor is not available here.''
If revenue loss from tourism were not enough, the consumption of ganja and other banned substances have also gone up, contributing to a spike in state crime statistics. The number of cases registered under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) in 2013 and 2014 have been as many as 793 and 970 respectively. In 2015, 1430 cases were registered – after the liquor policy was enforced. And till August this year, the number of cases have already reached 1789, said the Excise Minister. Under the NDPS Act in the last five years, the spike is from 332 in 2011 to as high as 1789 in 2016.
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