Kerala resumes liquor sales against tokens sent via Bevco app

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on May 28, 2020 Published on May 28, 2020

Representative image

The app provides a slot at the interval of every 15 minutes at a specified outlet nearest to the consumer

Liquor sales have resumed in Kerala with the monopoly public sector wholesaler and retailer Kerala State Beverages Corporation (KSBC or Bevco) floating the BevQ mobile app for placing orders at bars, beer parlours, Bevco outlets or those of Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation.

The BevQ app provides a slot at the interval of every 15 minutes at a specified outlet nearest to the consumer identified through GPS. But in the run-up to the scheduled 9 am for sales to begin on Thursday, many consumers experienced glitches with the app, whose trial run saw 20,000 downloads in two minutes the previous day.

Glitches with mobile app

Many of Kerala’s peer states had reopened liquor shops following the relaxation of lockdown rules in early May but to deleterious aftermath of uncontrolled crowding. Kerala did not want to jump the queue yet and decided to wait out its time for developing the app to rule out crowding that would put into jeopardy its carefully built record in the fight against Covid-19.

With the state Excise Minister launching the app on Wednesday evening, at least 1,200 outlets across the state were ‘empowered’ to vend liquor’ through use of tokens delivered by the app. Each outlet can entertain 450 orders a day with a maximum of 50 people allowed to queue up in an hour, and only five in front of the outlet at any given point.

Social distancing ensured

This would prevent the usual crowding in front of the outlet and ensure social distancing. The outlets will function from 9 am to 5 pm, and a consumer taking an order on a given day will not be given another for the next four days. The launch of the app has brought cheer to thousands of tipplers across the state which boasts one of the highest per capita liquor consumption.

The BevQ app was developed by the Kochi-based startup Faircode Technologies, and was keenly awaited after the State government made its intentions clear on reopening the liquor outlets lying closed for more than two months till then. The intervening period also saw furious exchanges for and against the move in the social media and in the political realm.

Opposition alleges corruption

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, who had already drawn first blood after forcing the government to retreat from a deal with US-based Sprinklr for Covid-19 surveillance over charges of corruption, was prompt to jump into the fray with similar charges against the choice of Faircode Technologies for developing the app.

Chennithala went on to release what he described were ‘documents’ that proved that the government had favoured an ‘inexperienced firm with political links’ to the leadership of the ruling CPI(M) for building the app. He said the deal struck with the start-up firm enabled the latter to gain 50 paise for every order placed through the application. But the government was quick to deny the allegation.

Published on May 28, 2020
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