Tipplers in Bihar are bracing for dry days ahead.
The state government on Thursday decided to sell only one bottle per day per person who will also have to sign on a register as proof of purchase from a government-run liquor retail shop.
The new system will come into effect from April 1, the date when the state government starts implementing the much-hyped decision of imposing a total ban on sale and consumption of liquor in a phase-wise manner in the state.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar, who held a meeting of the excise department on Thursday, directed excise minister Abdul Jalil Mastan to work on the modalities to enforce the liquor ban.
“We have decided that shops would sell a single bottle to any individual and not more than that on a daily basis. Those purchasing liquor would have to sign on a register and would be monitored through a CCTV camera fixed at a point in the retail shop,” Mastan told HT.
The new system is expected to give alcoholics or those making bulk purchases of liquor bottles for any event like marriage or party a tough time as the supply would be restricted.
However, many feel that the system will only increase smuggling and black marketing of liquor, mainly IMFL (Indian-made foreign liquor) in the state during marriage season. There are also chances of liquor shops fleecing customers for clandestine supplies.
“This is not a foolproof system and would only open more channels of IMFL brands at a premium, both in cities and rural areas. It would be difficult to organise events as people could be harassed by authorities for stocking bottles illegally,” said Rajeev Kumar, a professional working in Patna.
Under the new system, the state beverage corporation will be running the liquor shops across the state without participation of private individuals, as is the case now. Around 650 shops would be run in the state in urban centres. Big cities are likely to have ten shops each.
The beverage corporation has already invited tenders for shops, CCTV cameras, godowns and money vending machines to start its retail operation from April 1. The government has decided to impose total ban on sale of country liquor in the state and only sell IMFL brands for six months under its decision to impose phase wise ban on liquor.
“We will be enforcing the ban strictly and take all measures to ensure that there is no black marketing or smuggling of liquor from neighbouring states,” the excise minister added.