The liquor outlets of government-run Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco) are in for a major facelift. The outlets would be well lit up with LED bulbs, measures would be taken to prevent customers from littering the premises and ensure tight security. There have been complaints that people were littering the premises especially during evening hours because of the poor lighting in and around the outlets.
All faded and wornout buildings would be repainted with shining bright colours. The official colour combination – blue, yellow and red -- approved by Bevco in 2017 would be used in all outlets. The front yard and counters of the outlets would also be pepped up.
Bevco chief managing director Yogesh Gupta has entrusted the tasks related to the facelift with district audit team managers.
The top official has issued circular to officers with detailed directions and specifications regarding complete facelift and standardisation of the outlets.
Of the more than three counters to be set up at each outlet, one would be only for digital payment. The customers can make payment using debit cards. There will be separate queues for digital counters.
Those opting for digital payment option should not jump the queue and create crowding in the area. Instructions about the counter and queue meant for digital payment would be displayed on the board outside each outlet.
Each outlet will have drinking water facility. But water and glass would not be kept in an area easily accessible to the customers as it could lead to obvious problems in liquor outlets. Therefore drinking water would be available near the staff enclosure. A board about availability of drinking water will be kept outside each outlet.
Toilet and parking facilities
Separate toilets for men and women would be setup in each outlet. While constructing new building, additional space would be earmarked for parking. Priority should be given for areas having roads with least congestion.
More staff will be engaged for cleaning the outlets, toilets and premises at regular intervals.
Cleanliness will be given top priority. Additional funds have been sanctioned for the cleanliness and sanitation activities in the outlets. Liquor outlets with less than Rs 20 lakh sales would be given Rs 5,500, outlets with sales between Rs 20 and Rs 40 lakh - Rs 7500 and those with sales above this figure would be given Rs 10,000.
The corporation believes that outsourcing sanitation and cleanliness work would not be wrong proposition. The iron barricades set up for queues would be replaced by ribbons as used in shopping malls for crowd and queue control. Iron barricades and bars are seen to be causing huge inconvenience to customers. Many times they get squeezed inside these enclosures.
Only 10 persons will be allowed in front of a counter at a given time.
With the courts taking note of overcrowding at Bevco outlets, the authorities have opened 100 new counters within two weeks.
More outlets likely
Bevco is likely to increase the number of liquor outlets in the wake of the high court's observation that there are more liquor shops in other states compared to Kerala. The excise commissioner has already placed a proposal before the government regarding increase in number of outlets.
However the court has not reached a final decision on increasing the number of outlets.
The government has decided to wait till the court's final direction.
Bevco had 420 liquor outlets in the state 10 years ago. As per the Oommen Chandy government's liquor policy 10 per cent shops were shut down every year. Many shops were also closed down following controversy over permissible limit along the national highway.
Now the number of liquor outlets have come down to 165. Of these, about 100 outlets are lying closed at the moment because of lockdown restrictions.
According to government's assessment, increase in number of outlets would ease the crowding. Besides it feels such a decision is unlikely to trigger a controversy as the government is only reverting to the previous number of 420 outlets.