Here’s a lesson or two that Bihar can learn from Kerala on alcohol
After being sworn in for the fifth time as the Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar declared on Thursday that a ban on sale of alcohol would be imposed in the state from the next financial year.
However, Bihar won’t be the first state to go dry in India as alcohol is currently banned in the states of Gujarat, Nagaland, Manipur and Lakshwadeep.
This alcohol ban was part of Nitish’s pre-poll promise as many rural women held protests where the CM went for campaigns, complaining about domestic violence and other miseries caused due to men in their family consuming alcohol especially in the rural areas.
The revenue from an alcohol ban is something Bihar will have to deal with, just like other states.
Reportedly, the Bihar government earned Rs 3,500 crores through taxes on the sale of alcohol.
However, it is not only the loss of revenue that the state has to worry about. As a closer look at the after effects of the Kerala government's decision for phased prohibition and closing down liquor bars tells us a different story. States imposing prohibition or ban of alcohol need to address the issue of alcoholism and create awareness about it before imposing the ban is the lesson that is already emerging from Kerala.
According to anIndian Express report, after bars were closed from April 2015 the authorities noticed a steep increase in use of narcotic and drugs and psychotropic substance abuse in addition to a spike in sale of illegal liquor in the state.
The newspaper also quoted the state excise minister K Babu saying liquor addicts “exploring new ways” to get intoxicated.
The bigger reality was the three fold increase of cases dealing with Abkari Act and Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act .
In 2008, the number of NDPS cases were 508 and since then the number remained below 1000 till 2013 (974) while in 2014 that number went up to 2,233.
The immediate impact of the alcohol ban can be seen as 399 cases were filed between April-July 2015 from 261 in the same interval.
In addition to the drug cases, the report also stated about the increase of sale of tranquilizers and smuggled alcohol from other states in Kerala.