Bihar liquor ban: State to slap criminal cases against offenders
The government, the minister said, will make provisions to initiate criminal proceedings against offenders of the new prohibition laws that will come into effect from the next financial year.
People who manufacture and sell illicit liquor are at present booked under provisions of the Bihar & Odisha Excise and Prohibition Act, 1915.
At a press conference, Mastan said his department has started formulating policies and laws to enforce the ban on manufacture and sale of alcohol in the state.
"Even desi liquor made of mahua or stale rice will be banned," he clarified.
The minister, however, evaded questions on availability of liquor in star hotels.
He said the government would ponder over it at the time of drafting the prohibition policy.
Congress state president and education minister Ashok Choudhary and revenue and land reforms minister Madan Mohan Jha were also present at the press conference.
Mastan, who was elected on a Congress ticket from Amour Assembly constituency in Purnea district, said that the government would deal sternly with those involved in smuggling alcohol from neighbouring states like Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bengal, or from Nepal.
"We are aware of its (prohibition's) consequences and will formulate laws accordingly," he said. "Since chief minister Nitish Kumar has made a promise to enforce a liquor ban in the run-up to the Assembly elections, we are bound to fulfil it. It's a matter of pleasure that the pre-election promise is being fulfilled soon after the formation of the new government."
Bihar earns about Rs 4,000 crore, or 15 per cent of total revenue generated from its own resources, annually from excise tax. Asked how the state government would compensate the huge loss of revenue, Mastan said, "In a welfare state, the government's job is to think about people. There was a growing demand from women and other people from remote areas, (so) we decided to put a ban on it (alcohol). The government would look for alternative ways, including ethanol production, to generate revenues. Apart from this, there are other departments which will be assigned to generate revenues."
The Telegraph, Kolkata
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