Liquor shortage: Intelligence warns of increase in bootleg alcohol production in Kerala

By B AjithRaj

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Thiruvananthapuram: An Intelligence Report from the Excise department suggested that bootleg alcohol production will likely increase in the state as the distributors had cut supply to the State Beverages Corporation (Bevco). The liquor shortage hit Bevco units across the state after private distilleries stalled production due to a steep hike in the price of Extra Neutral Alcohol (ENA), a primary raw material used in alcoholic beverages.

As per the latest estimate, around 4 lakh cases of alcohol are left in stock in various warehouses. However, the majority of these cases are expensive alcohol brands. As a result, the cheap alcohol brands sold through Bevco face a severe shortage.

Meanwhile, the shortage had hit Bevco hard. The daily sales have steeply fallen from Rs 25 crores to Rs 17 crores. According to studies, around 10 per cent of Bevco customers are addicted to alcohol. With a shortage, there is a likely chance that they would rely upon other forms of drugs or illicit liquor. Intelligence reports indicate that this may lead to deaths after drinking bootleg alcohol. Meanwhile, the excise has also increased surveillance to nab those who tried to smuggle alcohol from outside the state.

The current scenario is the result of an unpresidential hike in the price of spirits from Rs 64 to Rs 74 in the last three months which severely affected private distillers in Kerala. 95 per cent of foreign liquor brands are produced in Kerala itself. As a result, the efforts to bring alcohol from outside the state haven't succeeded so far.

An average of 20 lakh cases of Indian-made foreign liquor are sold in the state each month. Currently, stock left with the Bevco will be sold out by this weekend.

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