Tipplers in Kerala stock up ahead of dry days

Thiruvananthapuram: Tipplers in Kerala are stocking up on liquor ahead of five dry days on account of polling on Monday for the assembly elections and counting of votes on Thursday. Long queues have been seen since Friday evening in front of most of the 344 state-owned liquor shops in Kerala. The dry days kick in on Saturday evening and end on Thursday evening, according to a government order citing an Election Commission directive. "During the dry days no spirituous, fermented or intoxicating liquors or other substances of a like nature shall be sold, given or distributed at a hotel, tavern, shop or any other public place or private within the state," said the government order. Interestingly, the order also prohibits "storage of liquor by individuals". The state government's new liquor policy has seen about 700 bars in hotels with ratings below five star shutting down since April 2015. The profile of alcohol consumers reveal that 32.9 lakh people out of Kerala's 3.34 crore population consume liquor, including 3.1 lakh women. About five lakh people consume liquor on a daily basis. Of this, around 83,851 people, including 1043 women, are addicted to alcohol, figures with the government show.