Furore over TS Govt’s plan to open Neera stalls in state

  • Forum for Good Governance complains to Governor
  • Seeks chemical analysis of Neera to assess alcohol content
  • Wants Neera to be categorised as ‘liquor’

Hyderabad: The State government’s plan to open Neera stalls across the state has drawn flak from various quarters, including civil society organisations.

The decision to open Neera stalls was announced on Monday by ministers KT Rama Rao, T Harish Rao and V Srinivas Goud when they unveiled the government’s new policy on the sale of Neera – a non-alcoholic beverage created from the sap of palm that turns into toddy upon fermentation.

The ministers stated that Neera stalls would be set up initially in Hyderabad, along the Outer Ring Road, with the first stall expected to be opened near Tank Bund. The production and sale of Neera would then be extended to all districts of Telangana in a phased manner. The idea of selling food items from Telangana at the stalls was also floated.

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Minister Srinivas Goud said that apart from providing livelihood option to toddy tappers, the medicinal values of Neera would benefit people. For, Neera was proven to help reduce diabetes. “Neera has been produced in Telangana for hundreds of years. Chemical lab reports have shown that it has medicinal properties,” he said. Gould also mentioned that consumption of the drink was high in countries like Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, while in the USA the practice began recently.

However, the minister’s claims are being contested by the Forum for Good Governance, which on Wednesday wrote to Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan requesting her to order the state government to conduct chemical analysis of Neera vis-à-vis toddy to ascertain whether Neera indeed has medicinal values and whether it has alcohol. It cited the chemical analysis done by the Kerala government on Neera, the results of which were submitted to the Supreme Court in 2017.

“The unfermented plant extract (neera) contains no alcohol, but there is every chance to misuse the same and can be converted into toddy very easily. That is how in Kerala, Neera is also put under the definition of liquor,” the forum secretary M Padmanabha Reddy said.

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