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Church to oppose new liquor laws

Draft proposals to tackle alcohol consumption in Kerala do not go far enough, leaders say

Patrons queue at a state-run liquor seller in Kozhikode Patrons queue at a state-run liquor seller in Kozhikode
  • George Kommattathil, Kozhikode
  • India
  • July 25, 2011
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Church leaders say they will oppose proposed new laws on the consumption of alcohol in Kerala because they don’t go far enough.

Kerala Madhyavirudha Samiti (Association against Alcohol Consumption) president, Father Thomas Thaithottam, said the laws do not meet the demands of the Church.

“Certain recommendations are welcome but they are all pretty much the same,” he said. “We can’t accept a plan to continue issuing bar licenses that allow them to operate till midnight,” said Father Stephen Alathara, a spokesperson for the Kerala Catholic Bishop Council.

The only plus is that it proposes raising the age limit for selling and buying alcohol from 18 to 21 years, he said.

The Kerala government submitted its proposals last week.

Reducing the amount of alcohol a bar can stock and restricting licenses for bars after 2014 are among some of the recommendations.

Kerala has the highest rate of alcohol consumption in India. During major festival like Christmas and Onam (harvest festival), consumption increases significantly.

Bold steps have to be taken to curb the menace or the state’s culture, heritage, social and spiritual life will be in “peril,” Father Thaithottam said.

Bishop Sebastian Thekethecheril of Vijayapuram said steps should be taken to close down liquor outlets in the state gradually.

Father Thaithottam called on the government to teach what the dangers of alcohol are in schools to safeguard a new generation from alcohol abuse.

Related reports:

Diocese turns to rosary to fight against alcohol

Church agrees with Marxists on alcohol
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