Bihar’s chief minister Nitish Kumar had ordered a complete ban on sale and consumption of alcohol in the state nearly five years ago. Last week, Kumar yet again ordered strict enforcement of the alcohol prohibition law and directed officials to act tough against violators while chairing a high-level meeting to review the law and order situation in the state.
CIABC has made a representation to CM Nitish Kumar and leaders of NDA constituent parties to review its liquor prohibition policy. In the letter, the body stated that an organised liquor cartel has come up in the state which was selling liquor at 400% premium.
“While people are forced to pay exorbitant prices for procuring liquor illegally, government revenues are severely hit by the illegal sale. The state government is missing out on annual revenue of Rs 7000-8000 crore, while the state is moving towards debt crisis due to major loss of revenue,” said CIABC director-general Vinod Giri in a press statement.
The apex body pointed out that prohibition failed in states such as Haryana, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.
According to Giri, a recent report by the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) 2019-20 stated that more men in Bihar consumed liquor than Maharashtra, proving that prohibition has not worked. Reports suggest that 90% of the illegal sale of liquor is among poor and backward people. Liquor related cases have led to numerous litigations which have affected judicial administration and led to overflowing of jails. There are lakhs of liquor-related cases pending in Bihar today, he added.
In its letter to Bihar CM, CIABC has suggested that liquor sale be allowed in urban areas and that the government should fix a minimum price to stop the sale of illicit cheap liquor in the market.
According to CIABC, India is the third-largest spirits market in the world by volume. With annual revenues of Rs 4.5 lakh crore, it is also one of the largest industries within the Indian economy. The industry also contributes approximately Rs 2.4-lakh crore in taxes to the governments, thus making it one of the highest tax contributors. It accounts for 20-40% of the tax revenues of most state governments.
The liquor industry, directly and indirectly, employs about 50 lakh farmers impacting 3.5 crore people in rural India, besides employing 20 lakh people in its production and supply chain, which is severely being impacted due to prohibition, added CIABC.