Thiruvananthapuram: While the LDF had promised to create an environment for bringing down the liquor consumption in its election manifesto, two years down the line, it is facing allegations that no serious attempt had been made to promote temperance. Though the government says it has to abide by court orders on reopening bars, activists are not ready to buy the argument. Many believe that LDF is not exercising the required prudence in dealing with the issue.
While the LDF election manifesto had clearly stated that it would not continue with the UDF policy of phased prohibition and alter it suitably, it had also promised to focus on temperance through awareness campaigns. But critics say LDF seems to be in a haste to reopen all shut bars. The CPM leaders, however, say that they have to comply with the court orders on reopening of bars along the highways and also in panchayats having 10,000 plus population. "Of the 418 bars that were shut during the UDF government's tenure, only the three star bars are being reopened," said a leader.
Another criticism against the LDF government is regarding the failure to conduct a detailed study on the use of liquor in the state. Some of the studies carried out in the state were basically tourism sector centric. These studies had brought out the loss suffered in tourism sector because of UDF liquor policy and had recommended a series of steps to provide liquor to the tourists. However, there was no serious study in the society to gauge the prevalence of liquor consumption.
The anti-liquor front activists say that the government is more concerned about revenue generation and tourism promotion and least bothered about the ill effects of growing liquor consumption. However, the LDF leaders counter these allegations saying that prohibition policy has not succeeded in any part of the world. The places where prohibition was implemented, had witnessed manufacturing, sales and distribution of illicit liquor in a big way besides prevalence of hooch. Substance abuse had also increased alarmingly in such places.