In 2014, the state of Kerala implemented prohibition, which resulted in the closure of almost 420 bars across the state. And the government also implied that it would not be renewing the licenses of the bars that had not closed their doors, therefore making it illegal for them to continue serving alcohol once their valid licenses expired. Bevco (Kerala State Beverages Corporation) which is equivalent to the TASMAC in Tamil Nadu started shutting down their stores and the same happened with Consumerfed. However, 5-star hotels around the state were permitted to continue serving alcohol – but only beer and wine, unless they have a license for hard liquor – and toddy continued to be sold legally all over the state.
But now, the Kerala State Cooperatives Consumer Federation Ltd (Consumerfed) is planning to introduce an online order system for customers. Given the long queues that form outside of the liquor stores around the state, it’s becoming more and more difficult for people to get the alcohol they’re there for. On some days, the queues start even before the outlet has opened. To reduce this queuing, they have introduced this new process.
Customers cannot buy the alcohol online, however, they can place the order and pay for it via a website and using the receipt, they can collect their purchase from the Consumerfed outlet, cutting down the amount of time spent waiting in line.
Mehaboob, the managing director of Consumerfed and CPI(M) leader said that the final decision would be taken by the board of directors. “There will be no online sale of IMFL bottles. Only the order can be placed online. With the receipt, the customer has to go to the existing outlets of Consumerfed to collect the bottles. Sale will be only across the counter. As there is no online sale of IMFL, the Excise Act need not be amended to introduce the new system. We will be operating within the ambit of the existing law,” Mehaboob added.
Consumerfed runs 38 out of 306 liquor retail outlets in Kerala. Along with Bevco, they had also introduced self-service liquor outlets in Kochi and Thirvananthapuram, which are very popular among customers, especially women who find it difficult to stand in long. Excise Minister T P Ramakrishnan said liquor consumers deserve better treatment and added, “The queue system at the outlets should undergo a change.”