11/26/2015, 00.00
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Bihar to go dry next year

Alcohol ban is Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s first decision since his re-election in early November. Alcohol abuse is rampant among the poor. Last year, the state earned US$ 600 in tax revenues from alcohol.

Patna (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Indian state of Bihar will implement a ban on alcohol sale as of 1 April 2016, the newly re-elected Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced this morning in fulfilment one of his campaign promises.

A ban on alcohol, the political leader believes, will eliminate the scourge of alcoholism, which affects disproportionately the poor as well as women, who are often the victims of domestic abuse.

Mr Kumar made his announcement on the margins of Prohibition Day, as his first act following his re-election in early November.

In July, he had met a group of women, who protested against alcohol abuse in rural areas. He told that he would take action since “Women are suffering more than anyone else due to increasing liquor consumption”.

The Bihar chief minister said that alcohol abuse among the poor was affecting families and children’s education, and that it was a major cause of domestic violence, particularly against women.

Although Excise and Prohibition Minister Abdul Jalil Mastan said soon after taking office that the Bihar government would soon take steps to impose a ban on liquor sales in the state, it is unclear whether the ban will be limited to domestic spirits or affect imports as well.

On the revenue side, Mr Kumar said that his government “would find ways to make up for the loss of 40 billion rupees” (about US$ 600 million) in taxes.

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