The Kerala government on Thursday approved a new liquor policy that will allow sale of alcohol at hotels with three stars and above, reported ANI. “Beer and wine licence will be allotted to eligible hotels,” said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The chief minister said his government would protect the toddy industry in the state. He said a toddy board would be set up soon and hotels with three stars and above would be allowed to sell toddy. The Left Democratic Front government is also planning to promote a liquor abstention campaign and set up rehabilitation centres, the chief minister said.

LDF convener Vaikom Viswan said that restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol had led to an increase in substance abuse in the state. “The closure of bars has not brought down liquor consumption. It has only increased,” he told The Hindu after a meeting of the LDF State committee in Thiruvananthapuram.

In 2014, the chief minister at the time Oommen Chandy had introduced partial prohibition in the state. The Congress had said it was moving then to make Kerala totally alcohol-free within 10 years of the partial ban.