After thousands of ‘desi’ liquor shops were closed in rural Bihar following a partial liquor ban effective last Friday, the Nitish Kumar government has banned sale of ‘toddy’ also.
After Gujarat, Mizoram and Nagaland, Bihar has become the fourth Indian state to go dry.
“No hotels and bars will serve alcohol now, no license will be given,” said Nitish Kumar. However, army canteens will continue to sell alcohol.
He also said that the call for ban on liquor got a tremendous response, especially from women and children. “In the first four days of the ban on country liquor it has become a social movement. Even in cities women are opposing government-run shops selling liquor as we had planned to start for the next six months. And so I feel this is the right time for social change in Bihar,” he added.
The decision on the ban on any type of alcohol was taken on Tuesday by the Bihar cabinet, four days after a ban began on the production and sale of country liquor, or desi liquor.
Bihar is now the fourth dry state after Gujarat, Kerala and Nagaland.
“A notification is being issued by the excise and prohibition department,” Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said Tuesday as he came out of a cabinet meeting.
Meanwhile, former chief minister and president of Hindustani Awam Morcha Jitan Ram Manjhi on Sunday opposed the latest ban, saying it was wrong to ban sale of toddy in Bihar after banning countrymade liquor.
“Toddy is also consumed as medicine and even I have consumed toddy for 15 days. It is not proper to ban its sale. Most of the people in toddy business are from the Dalit community and poor people. The state government should reconsider the ban on its sale,” Manjhi said.
He said Rashtriya Janata Dal chief and former chief minister Lalu Prasad had declared toddy tax-free in Bihar to help people engaged in its business, particularly the ‘Pasi’ caste.
The Bihar government gets revenue of nearly Rs. 2,000 crores from the sale of IMFL and revenue of around Rs. 4,000 crores from country liquor sales in 2015-16.
In the 2014-15, the excise collection from liquor in the state was Rs 3,700 crore while the target for the 2015-16 was set at Rs 4,000 crore.
The Excise and Prohibition department has also issued toll-free numbers of 15545 and 18003456288, which people can dial to inform about violations of liquor ban rules.