Keralites chugged alcohol worth Rs 624 crore in a week during the run-up to the Onam festival, setting another record for the highest liquor sale in the state, Indiatimes.com reported on September 9. In 2021, liquor worth as much as Rs 529 crore was sold.
On September 7, the day of Uthradam, a day before the big festival liquor worth Rs 117 crores was sold, the report said quoting sales figures from government-owned state beverages corporation Bevco. Last year on Uthradam, liquor worth Rs 85 crore was sold.
The reason behind record sales can be attributed to low key festivities during the past few years. In 2018 and 2019, the festive 'spirit' was dampened by the floods and later by Covid outbreak for another two years. Last year, liquor outlets and bars were closed on Onam in Kerala. It was after a hiatus of four years, that the state witnessed resumption of festivities on Onam.
The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) which was carried out during 2019-20, found that 19.9% of men and 0.2% of women, both above the age of 15, in the state of Kerala consumed alcohol. The countrywide figures of consumption among men and women were 18.8 % and 1.3%, respectively.
According to the report by Indiatimes, taxes on alcohol are quite steep in the state — A bottle of rum produced at a cost of ₹100-150 is sold at Bevco outlets for Rs 600-800.
Liquor and lottery are among the major revenue earners for the state. According to state data, in the last few years Kerala earned an annual revenue of Rs 14,000 crore from liquor and Rs 10,000 crore from lottery on average.
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A Bevco spokesman told Indiatimes that the total revenue from the ten-day festival season is expected to cross Rs 700 crore. He however added a clause that the definitive data will emerge only after September 11.