Coming out with fresh allegations on the brewery deal, the Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala on Wednesday called for the resignation of Excise Minister TP Ramakrishnan.
This came close after Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan supporting establishment of more breweries in Kerala and that there were no flaws. He also claimed that Chennithala's allegations were baseless.
No sooner had Pinarayi addressed mediapersons than Chennithala said at a press conference that the application of Sri Chakra Distilleries had been pending for seven months. Following the ‘striking of a deal’, the Minister cleared it during the peak of the floods in the State. This was despite notes from the Deputy Secretary and the Excise Additional Secretary against granting permission, “the Excise Minister waited for a deal and went ahead to grant permission”, Chennithala said.
The Cabinet decision of 1999 did not permit granting of new distilleries and the note by officials clearly said that the policy decision had to be amended for granting permission. But no meeting of the Cabinet was held and also the LDF committee was not informed about this, he added.
Moreover, it was the rule that the land details and sketch had to be submitted. In this case it was not done and none knew where the proposed plant was to come up, Chennithala said. Also granting of permission was prime and getting licence was a formality after getting clearances from departments concerned.
Earlier, Pinarayi said breweries would create jobs and raise State income. He said 8 per cent of liquor and 40 per cent of beer was brought from outside the State. Once new breweries and distilleries came up, dependence on other States could end.
Even while sticking to the stand that it was the LDF policy to discourage alcohol consumption for which it had started deaddiction centres, Pinarayi did not say that foregoing this liquor and beer from other States would reduce the supply and contribute towards discouraging consumption.
He accused Chennithala of misleading the public with 'some baseless doubts’. About VS Achuthanandan speaking against breweries, Pinarayi said he (Achuthanandan) had raised concern about water exploitation and permits would be given only after looking into this aspect.