Only Rs 7.65 crore of Rs 1,027 crores collected for rehabilitation of Kerala bar workers used

Kochi: The LDF Government’s review of the liquor policy and subsequent reopening of several bars, which were closed down in 2014 during UDF’s regime, quickly started filling the state exchequer and brought new vigor to the tourism sector. But the plight of many employees, who the government said would benefit immensely from the new policy, continues to be pathetic as they keep running from pillar to post for their rehabilitation benefits.
Though the Kerala State Beverage Corporation (Bevco) accumulated a whopping sum of Rs 1,027.13 crore over the last four years through the five per cent cess imposed on liquor sold through the corporation, only Rs 7.65 crore of it has been distributed so far to 8,651 employees. “The government collected more than thousand crore as cess in our name. But the reason why they’re not distributing it is unknown. Only a few employees have regained their jobs in bars after they reopened.
Many workers like me were forced to choose other fields for earning our livelihood”, said Babu, a native of Thodupuzha, who works for daily wages now. He had worked as a bar manager for 20 years before being shunted out following the ban. Today, in his 50s, he is fighting hard to make both ends meet. “A sum of Rs 10,000 was distributed during the UDF regime.
The LDF government, which revised the liquor policy and cited employment as one of the reasons for reopening the bars, is not taking care of the displaced workers’ welfare”, he added. Madhya Vyavasaya Thozhilali Union (AITUC) president K K Asharaf said the union will soon approach the High Court for the disbursal of the benefits. “The government should conduct a verification to select the employees for rehabilitation. In bars, the number of registered workers are very low. Fresh employees have been appointed in the reopened bars and the former workers were not retained”, he added.

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