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Ground report: A year in dry Bihar

By MI Khan
Last updated on: April 05, 2017 16:27 IST
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On April 5, 2016, the Nitish Kumar-led government imposed total prohibition in Bihar. M I Khan crunches numbers for the REAL picture since then.

 

On Wednesday, Bihar ushered in a year under prohibition.

During this year, the Nitish Kumar-led government has ensured that prohibition under the Bihar Excise (Amendment) Act, 2016 is enforced on the ground and not just on paper, and the implementation has been strict.

Look at the figures.

At least 45,033 people have been arrested for violating the Bihar prohibition law.

Of these, 44,996 were jailed.

The police and excise department officials conducted 2,18,722 raids and seized liquor worth over Rs 50 crore including Rs 41 crore of foreign made liquor in the last one year.

The Bihar government says total prohibition since April 5, 2016, has improved law and order, particularly women’s safety.

”Our lives have changed after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar imposed total prohibition. He has done a good job by banning liquor," says Gudia Devi, a resident of Berhampur village in Patna district.

The sentiment is repeated by Sobha Devi, Rukhsar Bano, and Sundr Devi. They all said the ban on alcohol was good. “My husband, who used to spend half of his daily earnings on alcohol, now saves money for the family. In the last one year we have purchased a new TV and a gold earring for my daughter," said Sobha Devi.

Nitish Kumar has also repeatedly lauded the role of women behind the success of total prohibition in the state. He said the liquor ban has helped women empower themselves and improve their lifestyle.

Now, nearly a dozen states including Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Haryana want to replicate the Bihar model.

According to a report by the state police headquarters in Patna, in the last one year, 40,413 cases were lodged in connection with the violation of prohibition laws. 'We have seized 3,13,187 litres of desi (locally made) liquor, 47,161 litres of spirit, 52,53,334 litres of foreign liquor, 11,371 litres of beer and 628 quintals of mahua,' it said.

Bihar's inspector general (prisons), Anand Kishore, said the 58 jails in the state have a capacity to hold 38,000 prisoners and as of today hold 30,000 prisoners. Of these 5000 prisoners have been jailed for violating the Bihar prohibition law.

The CM has reiterated time and again that it was wrong to assume that prohibition caused a fall in revenue owing to a loss of excise duty. The state used to earn Rs 5000 crore through VAT and excise duty on liquor. After prohibition, the revenue generated in fiscal 2016-17 was almost the same as it was in 2015-16.

In a bid to make total probation a political agenda, Nitish Kumar has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to implement prohibition in the entire country and to create a favourable environment for it by getting the liquor ban promulgated in BJP-ruled states. This came after the PM praised him for effectively implementing the liquor ban.

IMAGE: Women have been the biggest supporters of prohibition in Bihar. 

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