Bihar bans liquor, becomes fourth dry state in India

During Assembly elections, Nitish had promised that he would start a people's movement against liquor.

Patna: Four days after promulgation of partial prohibition in Bihar on April 1, the Nitish Kumar government on Tuesday decided to impose a total ban on alcohol in towns and cities.

The decision was taken after cabinet gave its approval to excise and prohibition department’s proposal to impose a complete ban on sale and consumption of liquor in the state including IMFL brands.

Announcing the decision after the cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said that the government which had earlier decided to allow sale and consumption of Indian Made Foreign liquor brands in selected parts of urban areas has now, after growing public demand, decided to impose a complete ban.

“We didn't not expected this kind of public response, we have now decided to impose a complete ban on liquor with immediate effect. No license will be given and no hotels and Bars in the state will be allowed to serve liquor after this announcement”, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said.

With the decision to impose a prohibition on all kind of liquor Bihar has become fourth state to become complete dry after Gujarat, Nagaland and Mizoram.

During Assembly elections, Nitish had promised that he will start a people's movement against liquor in the state and ensure that the ban on liquor is effectively implemented.

The Chief Minister said that the government had earlier planned to launch several awareness drive and also to create anti-liquor perception among people regarding ill effect of consumption of alcohol in urban areas before banning IMFL but, “the kind of environment we wanted is already there, they (women) didn’t want the government to open liquor shops they wanted a complete ban what more do we want. This has become a social movement and we felt that time has come to bring social change in Bihar”.

The Chief Minister said that the state was going to set an example in the country by banning liquor, and added that the temporary ban on alcohol in the state has received tremendous response from women and children.

According to sources the state government was compelled to ban IMFL brands after women started protesting state government’s decision to allow consumption in urban areas.

“Now there will be no discrimination both rural and urban areas will face similar kind of ban”, Kumar said during the announcement in Patna on Tuesday.

On 'toddy' which has created controversy in recent days following intervention of RJD President Lalu Prasad against its stoppage in view of interest of people associated with the trade, Kumar said the state cabinet decided to strictly impose the 1991 guidelines which allows consumption of "Neera" (drink from palm trees before sunrise) but disallows consumption of 'toddy' (after sunrise when the palm tree liquid gets fermented and gains alcoholic properties).

The 1991 guidelines prohibits sale and consumption of 'Neera' within 50 metre of places like hospital, education institutions, religious places among others in towns and 100 metres radius in rural areas, he added.

The chief minister said "Neera" would be allowed, while 'toddy' drink would be barred.

In the 2014-15 the excise collection from the liquor in the state was Rs 3,700 crore while the target for the 2015-16 was set at Rs 4,000 crore.

Liquor Prohibition was the first major announcement by Kumar after he was sworn in as Chief Minister for the fifth time following an emphatic election victory.

It was a promise he had made at a public event in April to a group of angry women who had complained about liquor addiction in villages.

He had also exhorted women not to hesitate in destroying the country liquor manufacturing units after April 1.

"Do not hesitate to destroy 'bhattis' (manufacturing units of country liquor) if need arises and complaint to the call centre," Kumar had said earlier while launching a campaign to make prohibition a mass movement in the state.

The Chief minister had also said that a designated cell would be set up in Patna for strict monitoring of prohibition decision and its telephone numbers would be advertised so that citizens could inform, if they see illegal trade in liquor after prohibition comes into force.

Urging women to make the liquor ban in Bihar a mass movement, Kumar said he decided to go for it to fulfil his poll promise that if he returned to power, their wish to stop sale of liquor, which ruins families, would be fulfilled.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle with agency inputs )
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