Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government on Monday said it would move very cautiously in closing down the 312 bars now operating in the state.
Excise Commissioner Anil Xavier told the media Monday that closing down the 312 bars would be decided at a high-level meeting to be held here Tuesday.
His comment came a day after the Kerala Bar Hotel Association at a meeting in Kochi decided to seek legal redress against the state government`s decision to make Kerala a dry state with a new liquor policy.
The state government, which Friday finalised the new liquor policy, will submit to the Kerala High Court Aug 26, a roadmap to achieve total prohibition in the next 10 years.
Kerala has a total of 730 bars, of which license of 418 were renewed this fiscal while the remaining 312 will have to shut down at the earliest under the new policy.
From the next fiscal, only the five-star hotels in the state will serve liquor. Also, from Oct 2 this year, all Sunday`s will be dry days. Out of the 383 state-owned retail liquor shops, 10 percent will close down each year.
Xavier said: "As per the rules, this fiscal when they were given the temporary license, it was said they will have to abide by the new liquor policy.
"We will seek legal advice on this aspect and we will go about it only after examining all the rules. The bar association in their meeting yesterday (Sunday) had requested that they should be given time."
Over 600 of the owners of the 730 bars attended the meeting of the Kerala Bar Hotel Association Sunday.
Working president of the association Biju Ramesh to IANS: "The state government is not doing a fair thing, if they are so committed, first they should shut down all their retail outlets.
"Through closing down bars, they are targeting us only and the state government is doing the liquor business," Ramesh said.
Meanwhile, state Congress president VM Sudheeran Monday said the government should move forward in this case with caution and should leave no stone unturned in the decision to make the state a dry one.