Plan to serve liquor at IT parks in Kerala in limbo

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Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Government has likely stalled the decision to grant licences for serving liquor at information technology parks. Even three months after the liquor policy was announced, the special rule in this regard has not been framed. Meanwhile, the IT companies which were initially keen on the proposal aimed at providing a vibrant night life to professionals have developed cold feet.

In its liquor policy announced in April, the Kerala government allowed the opening of "specially designated areas within IT parks" that will facilitate the serving of liquor. This was in response to the requests from the industry and employees' organisations.

Why the delay

The decision was to grant club licences, with the developer or co-developer at the IT parks becoming the licencee. When the excise department initially prepared the draft of the special rule and submitted it to the government, confusion arose about the definition of IT parks. To prevent the misuse of the licence, the government sought clarity on the definition and the draft was revised and sent again.

After moving through the excise department, IT department, and the Chief Minister's office, the file is now with the law department.

The next muddling factor was over who would be tasked with running the club if the developer or co-developer are not involved in the direct operations. The IT department then proposed to appoint a person who has operated a bar, by ensuring high standards, for a specific number of years. However, this is yet to be finalised.

Also, no decision has been taken over operational hours, and fees, among other issues. While taking into account the shifts at IT parks, the IT department had sought for time to be allotted.

It is also alleged that some bar owners have been exerting pressure against giving licence to IT parks.

Even the developers were among those who had given in writing that liquor licence was needed for starting companies. But after the IT policy was announced, none has approached the government with this demand.

Leading companies at the IT parks have a declared 'non-alcoholic' policy, which restricts the consumption of liquor at the company and IT park during work hours. The companies have, therefore, adopted the stance to take a decision after the rules are framed and the criteria notified.

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