Bihar to ban liquor in phases from April 1

After confusion over tender for IMFL retailer outlets officials say sales will continue but not in villages.

Updated - November 16, 2021 05:23 pm IST

Published - December 18, 2015 10:43 am IST - Patna

After several flip-flops now the Bihar government has decided that the ban on sale and consumption of liquor in the state will be in phases beginning on April 1, 2016.

Country-made alcohol will be totally prohibited in the first phase while the Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) will be banned six months after in the second phase.

Earlier on Thursday the Bihar State Beverage Corporation Limited (BSBCL) had put advertisements in some local dailies inviting tenders for shops, godowns, money vending machines, CCTVs, private security guards etc. for retail shops within “municipal limits” to run the liquor shops.

Sources in the state excise and prohibition department, however, told The Hindu that now the government will sell only foreign made liquor (IMFL) from its own retail shops but these shops will not be in villages.

Earlier, the BSBCL was responsible for the wholesale trade of IMFL earning a maximum of 2% profit on sale price but now with retail shops it will earn 15% more on the Maximum Retail Price (MRP).

Sources in the state excise department told The Hindu that there will now be only 656 government owned IMFL retail shops of liquor in the state with maximum 10 in large towns like Patna, Muzaffarpur, Gaya while 4 in smaller towns like Madhubani, Bhagalpur and Darbhanga.

Currently there are nearly 6,000 liquor retail shops in the state.

On November 26, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar had declared that there would be total ban on sale and consumption of liquor in the state from next fiscal year.

Later, the state excise and prohibition minister Abdul Jalil Masatn too had reiterated that liquor will be completely banned in Bihar from April 1 next year.

Nitish Kumar further said that he has asked his government officials to formulate a new liquor policy taking all aspects in view and put it before him.

“I’ll be able to look at the new liquor policy only at the end of December and then after take a decision on it but it has been my long cherished dream to ban liquor in the state as it causes several ills in society, particularly in villages”, said Mr. Kumar.

Two days back a delegation of liquor sellers had also met Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav seeking his intervention into the matter but Mr. Yadav had reportedly supported the state government’s decision to put a complete ban on liquor.

Meanwhile, the advertisement by the BSBCL on Thursday put the liquor ban issue in a confusing state as which way the Nitish government was moving on it.

“The contradictory postures on the liquor ban issue put a question mark on the government’s commitment”, tweeted senior state BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi.

Meanwhile, the state Excise and Prohibition minister Abdul Jalil Mastan has cleared the confusion saying the government will put ban on sale and consumption of liquor in phased-manner.

“Country, spice and locally brewed liquor will be banned in the first phase while IMFL will be banned after six months in second phase”, said Mr. Mastan while adding “the new prohibition policy will not place a complete ban on sale of liquor”.

“Chief minister Nitish Kumar wanted complete prohibition but he too has accepted the modified new policy with a heavy heart”, Mr. Mastan told media persons.

“This decision has been taken due to helplessness of the administration as they have not enough man power to impose total ban on the sale of liquor”, he said further.

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.

Asked about how the government would manage the loss of revenue, chief minister Nitish Kumar had earlier said, “the social loss is much more than this…and, moreover, we’ll mange the loss through other means”.

Meanwhile, sources in the state excise department told The Hindu that on December 24 Mr. Kumar will take a review meeting with officials on the new liquor policy.

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