The Nitish Kumar government on Tuesday declared Bihar a dry State while imposing total prohibition on the sale and consumption of liquor, both country-made and Indian-Made Foreign Liquor, with immediate effect. Earlier, following an excise amendment law, the ban on country-made liquor had become effective across the State from April 1. The government will stick to the 1991 guidelines on the sale and consumption of toddy.
“Seeing the tremendous support from the people, particularly women and children, to the ban on country-made liquor in the State within just days of its prohibition, we decided to put a total ban on alcohol,” Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told reporters here after a Cabinet meeting.
“No new liquor licences will be issued to hotels, bars and clubs,” he said.
However, he said, Army cantonment areas would be exempt as they regulate sale and consumption of alcohol in their own way.
Asked about the fate of the liquor companies and factories in the State after the total ban, Mr. Kumar said they can continue to manufacture “but cannot trade in it within the State.” “They can use digital lock system and GPS monitoring equipment in vehicles transporting the liquor manufactured in Bihar to places outside the State for sale,” he said.
Earlier, the Bihar government had banned sale and consumption of country-made liquor across the State from April 1 with provisions of even death penalty for those involved in trade of hooch. However, IMFL initially planned to be banned in the second phase, was to be sold through 655 liquor outlets opened by Bihar State Beverages Corporation Limited (BSBCL). But, when the BSBCL started opening its outlets and vends even in Patna both men and women came out on the streets in protest.
Earlier, legislators, policemen and employees of the State Secretariat had pledged not to drink liquor and even prevent others from consumption. Parents too had given written pledges in schools that they would not drink alcohol. Bihar will suffer an annual revenue loss of about Rs. 4,000 crore following prohibition.
BJP welcomes decision
Welcoming the decision, senior State BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi tweeted, “BJP and media compelled Nitish Kumar to declare total prohibition…BJP supports this decision of the government.”