Bihar was on Tuesday declared a dry state with the Nitish Kumar government imposing a total ban on sale and consumption of alcohol including India Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) with immediate effect.
The decision, announced by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar after a Cabinet meeting, which comes into effect from Tuesday makes it clear that no alcohol can be legally consumed in all of Bihar, including bars and restaurants.
The Bihar government had banned sale and consumption of country and spiced liquor in rural areas from April 1 this year, but had allowed sale of foreign liquor in towns and cities.
"But, the tremendous response of people particularly women and children against liquor in Patna and other towns in a short period of four days only convinced us that a conducive environment against alcohol has been created in the state and that's why we decided to go for total ban on liquor after four days only," Kumar told reporters.
No license would be granted for sale and consumption of alcohol in places like hotels, club and bars in towns and cities too with immediate effect, he said.
He, however, said Army cantonment areas would be out of it as they regulate sale and consumption of alcohol in their own way.
On 'toddy' which has created controversy in recent days following intervention of RJD President Lalu Prasad against its stoppage in view of interest of people associated with the trade, Kumar said the state cabinet decided to strictly impose the 1991 guidelines which allows consumption of "Neera" (drink from palm trees before sunrise) but disallows consumption of 'toddy' (after sunrise when the palm tree liquid gets fermented and gains alcoholic properties).
The 1991 guidelines prohibits sale and consumption of 'Neera' within 50 metre of places like hospital, education institutions, religious places among others in towns and 100 metres radius in rural areas, he added.
The CM said "Neera" would be allowed, while 'toddy' drink would be barred.
Asked about fate of liquor manufacturing companies and factories existing in the state after total ban order today, the CM said they could continue manufacture but cannot trade in it within the state.
"Besides, they have to abide by rules like having digital lock system and GPS monitoring equipment in vehicles transporting the liquor manufactured in outlets in Bihar to places outside the state for sale," Kumar said.
In reply to a question as to what would be done with nearly 36,000 litres of foreign liquor lying with Bihar State Beverages Corporation Limited (BSBCL) which they had to supply to limited outlets in towns and cities under its strict supervision, the CM said the Excise department would prepare an action plan for disposal of residual IMFL.
"It (residual IMFL) should be destroyed as its not a good thing to keep in archive," Kumar said speaking his mind on the stock of foreign brands lying with the corporation.
BJP welcomes ban, says they did it
The Bihar unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday welcomed the state government's move to declare Bihar a dry state but said the party had forced the Nitish Kumar government to bow to its pressure.
"We welcome the Bihar government's decision to ban all kinds of liquor in the state. The BJP had been regularly demanding a complete ban on all kinds of liquor in the state, which the Bihar government had earlier announced only on country made liquor," BJP state president Mangal Pandey told media.
"The BJP along with allies had been pressurising the government in the legislative assembly to force it to announce a complete ban on liquor sale, and today the government has bowed to ours' and the people's pressure," Pandey added.
Former Bihar deputy chief minister and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi took to Twitter and wrote: "BJP and media compelled Nitish Kumar to declare total prohibition. BJP supports this decision of the government."