Fulfilling his poll promise, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has announced that the state will go dry from April 1, 2016. While campaigning for the state election, Kumar had promised women that he would ban alcohol if his party came into power again.
The decision, Kumar believes will serve the poorest of the poor, who had been consuming liquor, thus badly hitting their families and their children’s education.
He said the rising liquor consumption was also a major cause for domestic violence, particularly against women, and had contributed to a rise in crimes.
Women protesting against liquor consumption
“We want to bring new policies to ban liquor from next year. We want development in the state. I want to implement this from April 1, 2016. I want the money to be used for education, women empowerment which will help us reach to a higher level of development,” Kumar had said.
Bihar Excise and Prohibition Minister Abdul Jalil Mastan had earlier said that the state government would soon take steps to impose a liquor ban.
While announcing the ban, Kumar also talked about a failed attempt to impose such a ban in 1977, and vowed to work out an effective implementation plan over the next few months.
“I know people will say that even after banning liquor it will be sold illegally. If it happens, we will deal with that strongly,” he told ANI.
This decision by Bihar government is expected to derail the state government’s financial health. The revenue collection of excise department was Rs 3,650 crore in 2014-15.
Though he said that he wasn’t sure how his government would bridge the shortfall in tax revenues worth thousands of crores from the sale of alcohol, he intended to keep his election promise to the women. By imposing the ban, Netizens say that the Bihar government is following the “Gujarat model” in Bihar. Prohibition has been in place in Gujarat since 1960. Alcohol is also banned in Nagaland, Manipur and Lakshwadeep. Last year, the Congress-led government in Kerala announced that it will be totally alcohol-free within 10 years. Since complete prohibition is a very complex issue, it remains to be seen how effective the total ban on alcohol will be in Bihar. Many independent studies have showed that it has always encouraged bootlegging and manufacture of illicit liquor, which is extremely harmful.