This is one first that Kerala will not be crowing about – the state leads in per capita consumption of liquor at a staggering 8.3 litres!
The per capita consumption of liquor in the rest of the country is four litres. Punjab comes second with 7.9 litres, according to the latest Economic Review released in the Kerala Assembly.
In a related worrying trend, the age at which youngsters begin to consume liquor has also come down in the state. Though the study quotes somewhat old figures, it indicates the malaise. While in 1986, the age at which youngsters started drinking was 19, by 1990 it came down to 17 and four years later it stood at an alarming 14 years.
Kerala's population, according to the 2001 census, is 31.8 million.
Another distracting revelation is that while most drinkers in the state fall in the 21-40 age bracket, the group also has the highest number of suicides.
And in more unflattering news, the liquor sales this fiscal are headed for an all-time high and could touch Rs.30.50 billion.
'During the last fiscal (2005-06), the liquor sales stood at Rs.26.35 billion, comprising of 10.9 million cases of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) and 4.1 million cases of beer. This fiscal we expect the IMFL sales to be 12.1 million cases and 4.3 million cases of beer,' said an official of the Kerala State Beverages Corporation (KSBC), the sole wholesalers of IMFL and beer in the state.
Similarly, the contribution of KSBC to the state exchequer is heading for an all-time high of Rs.23.79 billion up from Rs.20.55 billion in the last fiscal, he said.