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Kerala Churches have wine manufacturing licenses

Kochi,Aug 24 (): Kerala’s prohibition move has turned communal and created a divide within the Congress.

The Ezhava and Nair community heads have opposed the total prohibition move of Kerala government and asked as to how can wine be served in churches. It has come to light that wine served to faithful is manufactured by the church itself and that too with license from Kerala government.

23 licenses are held by church heads including a nun. Catholic Church heads had pushed the Kerala CM Oommen Chandy to take a decision to close all bars that were shut down due to irregularities and those already functioning.

Ezhava community which controls most of the liquor retail trade represented by SNDP and its leader Natesan had questioned as to how Muslim League, the second largest party in the Kerala ministry and the Catholic Church can impose their beliefs on the Hindu community.

Natesan asked that wine which has 16% alcohol content is given in churches and how this can be allowed when Kerala government has stopped all bars selling liquor. CPM, the opposition party has welcomed the Kerala government’s move but termed it as a decision born out of pressure and implementation of the decision has to be seen.

As per Kerala Abkari Act, any manufacture of alcohol needs a license. Churches in various districts have taken such licenses and as per the conditions, only dry grapes should be used and no sugar or fermenting agents should be used. Wine should only  be served from the place of manufacture.

Kerala excise officials can inspect the place where the wine is manufactured. There was a move to exempt wine manufacture from license but the excise chief objected to it. So far, no excise official has entered any Church premises to check the manufacturing of wine.

Though the wine is justified by the Church saying it is part of the ritual of their faith and cites that Jesus Christ in his last supper had told his believers to serve bread and wine in remembrance of him.

In the Church, only a few drops are given as a token and for weddings the wine made by the papal authority can be got only after a Vicar issues a letter.

The excise minister’s order to close down functioning bars without any notice or refunding the license fee will attract courts intervention. It has asked officials to take out all liquor in these bars and put them on auction.

After this announcement, bars have started to sell liquor mostly the premium variety got from Puducherry at discounted rates. Bar owners which met here have decided to move the court and pool in money to launch a ‘topple UDF ministry’ mission.

Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala who head two groups in Congress have decided to move the High Command against KPCC president for casting aspersions on the CM being an agent of liquor lobby.