Bihar government has taken an apparent reverse turn on the pre-poll promise of banning all the liquor shops in the state. Recently, the state run Bihar State Beverage Corporation Ltd (BSBCL) issued a series of tenders in newspapers in which applications have been invited to open government liquor shops, to possibly sell foreign liquor.
Here is a tender asking for the purchase of CCTV cameras as security measures for the new outlets. Another one is asking for the purchase of furniture, computers, vehicles etc for the govt outlet.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar
has earlier promised that if their government came to power they would ban all the liquor shops effective from April, 2016.
“The poorest of the poor had been consuming liquor, badly hitting their families and their children’s education. Increasing liquor consumption was also a major cause for domestic violence, particularly against women, and had contributed to a rise in crimes,” Kumar had said.
Reports suggest that the ban may now be limited only to country-made liquor, and that English liquor will be very much available in the shops.
The advertisement also mentioned that “as per new excise policy, the BSBCL intends to take over all operations of sale of foreign liquor in the state and for it the corporation needs shops on lease and rent.”
Besides the advertisement, the excise commissioner has also issued directives for the officials of his department regarding the new tender for sale of foreign liquor in the state. Officials have justified the move to ban only ‘Desi liquor’ saying that state is facing huge revenue deficit. Excise tax – the bulk of which comes from liquor – makes up about 15 per cent of the total revenues generated by the state from its own resources, which stands at Rs 30,875 crore for 2015-16.
At the time when Nitish took over the reins from the Lalu-Rabri regime in 2005, there were 3,000 liquor shops across the state, now they are 6,000. The advertisements have created a political stir in the state with the BJP raising questions on the intention of the state government, terming chief minister Nitish Kumar’s November announcement on liquor ban an “eyewash.” At present, only Gujarat, Nagaland, Manipur and the Union Territory of Lakshadweep have total prohibition. In Kerala, bars are allowed only in five-star establishments.