Kerala, India (BBN)-Authorities in the southern Indian state of Kerala have outlined plans to ban the sale and consumption of alcohol to tackle the state’s drink problem.
Initially, more than 700 bars and some shops selling alcohol would be shut and alcohol-free days would be increased, reports BBC.
The government aims to enforce total prohibition in 10 years, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said.
Kerala has India’s highest per capita alcohol consumption – over eight litres (1.76 gallons) per person a year.
Doctors and activists have highlighted rising alcohol abuse, blaming it for divorce cases and road deaths.
They say hospitals and rehab centres are packed with patients suffering from alcohol-related diseases.
Mr Chandy said the Congress-led government planned to make Kerala “liquor free” with a series of proposed measures in the coming months:
A total of 730 bars serving alcohol will be shut.
Only luxury hotels will be allowed to serve liquor from next year.
10% of the 338 liquor shops owned by a state-run monopoly will be shut every year.
Mr Chandy said the government wanted to ban alcohol in a phased manner over the next decade.
“The state should be prepared to accept total prohibition within this period,” he said.
Correspondents say businesses are worried that the proposed ban may hit tourism in the state – Kerala receives the highest number of tourists in India.
Nor is it clear how the government plans to recover lost earnings from sales of alcohol, which by one estimate accounts more than 20% of revenues in the state’s annual budget.
BBN/SS-22Aug14-12:50pm (BST)