Excise Dept wants IT park developers to run clubs meant for serving liquor

Representative image. Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

Thiruvananthapuram: The Excise Department is now framing norms for the serving of liquor in IT parks in Kerala as per the latest policy.

The developer or co-developer of IT parks will be responsible for serving liquor in clubs that have been proposed to be set up in such tech parks, the Excise Department has recommended.

The Kerala government, in its liquor policy announced on Wednesday, has allowed pubs in IT parks, considering the requests from the industry and employees' organisations.

If the developer or co-developer is unwilling to operate the liquor outlets, it shall be awarded to an outside agency with five-star hotel experience, the Department proposed.

The Excise Department has also recommended to issue a separate liquor licence for IT park-based clubs.

In the case of the Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram, Technopark is the developer since it had developed the infrastructure during the first phase. Later, other firms joined as co-developers that developed the necessary infrastructure on leased land, and rented out office spaces to various firms. The rent from the firms is being shared with Technopark.

It has been recommended that liquor should be served exclusively to employees of IT parks and guests. The developer or co-developer should provide the space for setting up such clubs. However, the Rs 20 lakh recommended as licence fee is likely to deter most developers/co-developers from opting to operate the clubs.

The club licence may not mandate the same norms as of bars elsewhere in the state. However, the norms that are to be framed to allow liquor on IT park premises may also specify the space and seating capacity of clubs, considering the parks are also workplaces.

The draft norms are currently under the consideration of the Department of Taxes. It will be forwarded to the departments of law and IT. The draft will return to the taxes department after department-level discussions, before issuing the final notification.

Kerala Congress (M), KCBC opposes policy
After the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), the trade union wing of the ruling LDF's key partner CPI, another major coalition partner, the Kerala Congress (M), on Friday came out against the new liquor policy even as CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan rejected reports of differences in the front.

The Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council (KCBC) has also lashed out at the liquor policy.

When asked about his take on the new liquor policy, KC(M) supremo Jose K Mani said there are concerns regarding some aspects of the policy and correction should be made if it is necessary.

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