The Kerala government has decided to issue special passes for tipplers, who have withdrawal symptoms and doctor's prescription, to purchase liquor from the excise department.
A government order in this regard was issued on Monday night, despite objection from doctors' association, to supply liquor to tipplers under prescription during the 21-day lockdown initiated to counter the spread of Covid-19.
"Following the lockdown and the closure of liquor outlets in the state, there were many instances of social issues including the frustration and suicide tendencies shown by those who used to consume liquor regularly and the state government has decided to initiate steps to resolve the matter," the order read.
The order said that those who have physical and mental issues due to withdrawal symptoms could be given liquor in a "controlled" and "prescribed" manner.
It also says that such persons with withdrawal symptoms should approach the public health centres, taluk hospitals, district hospitals, general hospitals or the medical college hospitals and get themselves examined by the doctor.
"If such a person gets a prescription from the doctors saying he has withdrawal symptoms, he could be provided with liquor in a controlled manner," the order read.
It said the prescription could be produced at the nearby Excise office along with a government issued identity card of the person carrying the prescription and receive a liquor pass.
The pass can be produced before the Beverages Cooperation Managing Director, who will take necessary steps to distribute liquor, the order said.
It also said that the liquor outlets need not be kept opened for this purpose.
However, the Indian Medical Association had flayed the Left government's plan to supply liquor to addicts based on prescription, saying it was not "scientific".
"Those showing withdrawal symptoms should be provided scientific treatment which can be given at homes or by giving medicines after admitting them at hospitals," IMA state president Abraham Varghese said.
So far the state has recorded three suicides of those who had withdrawal symptoms, allegedly upset over not getting liquor following alcohol ban.
Meanwhile, Kerala Government Medical Officer's Association has decided to observe April 1 as black day in protest against the state government's order on prescribing liquor to tipplers.
Dr Vijayakrishnan G S, General Secretary of KGMOA said the decision was a medical blunder.
"The duty of the doctor is to treat the patient who approaches him with withdrawal symptoms. The medicines given to during treatment do have side-effects and it's not possible to provide liquor with that," he said.
"At a time when the doctors are fighting the pandemic, such moves by the government will affect the morale of medical practitioners," Vijayakrishnan told reporters.