While the nation is struggling to combat the global pandemic by drawing various measures, Kerala and Punjab are ready to grab the opportunity to sell more alcohol through the outlets in the states. While people grab the ‘golden opportunity’, often the huge crowd in front of Kerala Beverages outlet had to be dispersed by police forces. It seems like, both the states have included alcohol among the essential commodities!
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday cited the “peculiar” situation arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic and a purported tweet by his Punjab counterpart, Capt Amarinder Singh, to justify the state government’s decision to keep liquor flowing amid the lockdown so that people can enjoy the lockdown.
“I have with me a message from the Punjab CM. I will read it for you…All essential services will continue there. He explains what these essential services and commodities are — groceries, liquor…the list goes on,” he said. Asked what made the government think alcoholic beverages could be listed as an essential item, Vijayan said, “The peculiar situation prevailing in the state demands such a measure.”
A spokesperson for the Punjab government confirmed that liquor shops would be allowed to operate during the lockdown till March 31, but denied that chief minister Amarinder had mentioned it in any tweet. A notification issued by the state government on Saturday mentions “beverages” in the list of exemptions alongside groceries, fresh fruits, vegetables, drinking water and fodder.
A ray of hope for the small minority who are against alcohol, CM Vijayan says bars won’t be allowed to open during the lockdown because that would defeat the objective of social distancing. Better grab a bottle of alcohol, booze and enjoy lockdown!
Pictures and videos of the crowded BevCo outlets in Kerala are surfacing in the social media while drunkards running for their lives beaten up by police evoke laughter even amidst the stress of the pandemic that has claimed the lives of thousands across the world.
However, we can’t neglect the fact that duties on liquor fetch the state exchequer around Rs 2,500 crore annually, accounting for 15% of its revenue.