Thiruvananthapuram: With the coronavirus lockdown in place, liquor would be delivered home by state-run retail outlets in Kerala after the left government has decided to issue special passes to tipplers, who exhibit withdrawal symptoms and have doctors prescription.
Protesting the government decision, the Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) wore black badges on Wednesday, but attended duty and seeking immediate withdrawal of the order, saying it was "anti-people".
As per guidelines issued by the Kerala State Beverages Corporation managing director G Sparjan Kumar, for the supply of liquor, a service charge of Rs 100 would be collected from each pass holder for meeting the delivery expenses.
Each person would be entitled to 3 litres of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and sale of wine and beer was not envisaged, the order stated.
Those not willing to undertake the home delivery, the name and details of the employee should be reported to the Head office for submission to the government, it said.
A civil police officer will have to accompany the distribution vehicle.
The sale of liquor should be only to the pass holders, limiting it to the quantity mentioned in the pass.
Any excess sale to pass holders or sales to non-pass holders is strictly prohibited, the order said.
In the order issued on Monday, the government said, following the lockdown and the closure of liquor outlets in the state, there were many instances of social issues, including suicidal tendencies shown by those who consumed liquor regularly and the state government has decided to initiate steps to resolve the matter.
Speaking to reporters, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said his government has not forced anyone to prescribe liquor to addicts.
He was responding to a query on the indifference of doctors towards the matter of prescribing liquor to addicts.
"If the doctors are not ready to prescribe liquor, it's fine. We are not forcing anyone to do so. We were just following the protocol which are prevalent at many places. It's been over a week. The family and friends of the addicts can gently persuade them to approach the de-addiction centres," he said.
Sparjan Kumar said the order on home delivery was just a modality, as part of the earlier order issued by the government to provide liquor under prescription.
"We have worked out a modality. We have a meeting tomorrow. Some new order has been issued by the Centre today. The meeting will discuss the implementation of the orders," Kumar told.
A person showing withdrawal symptoms has to get a doctor's prescription on his condition so that he could be provided liquor in a "controlled manner", the order added.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also come out against the government's move.
Meanwhile, Vimukthi, an anti-narcotics campaign launched by the state government, has till now admitted 64 patients since March 24.
"Since March 24, the day lockdown started, we have 64 patients admitted due to withdrawal symptoms. We have also registered at least 200 out patients at various de-addiction centres across Kerala," K Mohammed Resheed, Joint Excise Commissioner in charge of awareness told.