Keralites gulp down Rs 750 crore worth of liquor during Onam

Thiruvananthapuram: The raging pandemic did not matter to tipplers in Kerala as they gulped down record Rs 750 crore worth of liquor during the 10-day Onam festival, according to the sole wholesaler of liquor and beer in the state – Beverages Corporation Limited (Bevco). The 10-day Onam festival period ended on Sunday.

Managing director of Bevco (manufacturing & marketing) Yogesh Gupta said over Rs 600 crore from this amount would go to the State government as taxes.

For a while now, Kerala has more than 50 per cent of the daily new Covid cases and has the highest number of active cases in the country and this did not turn a deterrent as tipplers armed with vaccine certificates lined up before 260 retail outlets of Bevco.

"Last Onam, we made around Rs 565 crore in sales. This year, we saw a record sale of Rs 750 crore," Gupta told PTI.

While 70 per cent of the sales took place through the retail outlets, the bars which can only provide supplies in bottles, accounted for 30 per cent.

This Onam season also saw the Bevco retail outlet located on the Power House Road near the Secretariat registering the highest ever daily sale of Rs 1.04 crore and it took place on Friday, which saw the total daily sales peak by Rs 85 crore. Irinjalakuda outlet and Kannur Parakandi outlets sold liquor worth Rs 79 lakh and Rs 78 lakh respectively.

On the eve of 'Thiruvonam', Bevco reported sale of liquor worth Rs 85 crore, Gupta said.

"In fact, there has been a 40 per cent increase in sales this year," Gupta said. He attributed the increase in sales to the refurbished shops, additional counters and an online and card payment system.

The online sale, introduced this time as a pilot project, from one outlet each in the districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode touched over Rs 10 lakh, he said.

There are 301 government-run liquor outlets across the State. Last year, the government increased the price of liquor by 10-35 per cent to get extra revenue. Currently, the sales tax on IMFL (Indian Made Foreign Liquor) is 237 per cent for brands priced up to Rs 400 and 247 per cent for those above that price.

The profile of liquor users in the state in an earlier study reveal that around 32.9 lakh people out of the 3.34 crore population in the state consume liquor, which includes 29.8 lakh men and 3.1 lakh women.

Around five lakh people in Kerala, consume liquor on a daily basis. Of this, around 83,851 people including 1,043 women are addicted to alcohol, according to state government statistics.

(With PTI and IANS inputs)

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