India's Bihar state imposes complete ban on alcohol

Date published: Wednesday, 6th April 2016

Nitish Kumar had promised to ban liquor before re-election in November last year

India's Bihar state has declared total ban on the sale of all forms of alcohol with immediate effect in a move seen as fulfillment of an election promise made by state Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

"Liquor will not be sold in any bar, pub or hotel from now onwards," Nitish Kumar said at a press conference in the state capital, Patna, days after a partial ban was implemented in the state of 100 million.

"We have decided to place complete ban on liquor in the state," Kumar, who had promised to ban liquor before re-election in November last year, tweeted.

Abdul Bari Siddiqui, state's finance minister, told Al Jazeera that positive public response and demand from women led the government to go for total prohibition five days after a partial ban was put in place.

On Thursday, the state assembly passed a bill to ban country-made liquor that has been blamed for deaths in the past.

The bill has provision for capital punishment for those engaged in manufacturing or trading illicit liquor in case people die after consuming them.

Revenue losses 

Bihar has become the fourth state after Gujarat, Nagaland and Mizoram states to impose blanket ban on liquor.

One of the biggest rationales behind alcohol ban was that it played a role in violence against women. During the state elections last November alcohol ban was one of the issues, and Kumar's coalition partners also mentioned it in their manifesto.

"Whatever might be the cost, we have to implement the law as it is a respect of the mandate we got in the last elections," the finance minister Siddiqui said.

Critics have said that total ban will lead to revenue losses in a poor state like Bihar and will give rise to black market and underground production activities.

"In the name of revenue collection we cannot allow poison to be served to people," Siddiqui told Al Jazeera by phone from Patna.

"Families have been destroyed, as a large number of rural youth took to drinking due to proliferation of cheap local liquor stores," he said.

The minister, however, said that to make up the lost revenue the government will bring more sectors into the tax net.


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