After the announcement of total prohibition and pepped up by the initial response, especially from women, the Bihar government has now embarked on its strict compliance both in rural and urban areas.
The next in the firing line could be gutkha, following reports that it is used along with ammonia nitrate and other dangerous chemicals to prepare a country brew, that could even kill.
According to sources, principal secretary, department of excise and prohibition, KK Pathak, had talks with health department officials on this score. Gutkha and paan masala were banned in the state four years ago, but their availability could not be contained in the open market.
Pathak has also issued orders for removal and destruction of stocks sealed in various hotels and clubs by Thursday. “The stocks cannot be kept in sealed form for long,” he said.
The well-equipped control room of the department of excise and prohibition is on job, with telephone operators receiving complaints from far and wide and passing it on to authorities concerned for prompt action. The compliance is also reported to the complainant through phone for verification and feedback. The impact is such that the department’s control room is receiving more complaints than the police control room.
“On Tuesday it received 137 complaints, while on Wednesday 25 complaints were received by 11am. Many women are also coming forward to lodge complaints,” said an official.
On complaints, a mechanism has been developed to carry out raids the same day. The department has roped in 550 jawans of the special auxiliary police (SAP) to accompany excise teams, in addition to the police teams. The raids are conducted in coordination with the police to avoid duplicity.
Though prohibition got effective from April 1, the department was doing its homework since mid-December through regular raids against illicit liquor manufacturing units to build an atmosphere for prohibition. An important aspect of the new law is that it has made violation and offence non-compoundable, a move to check field-level corruption.
The department has also worked out a plan for community fine should there be sale and consumption of country liquor repeatedly in any locality in violation of prohibition norms. There were reports from some places, including Aurangabad, that people assembled in groups to sell country liquor.
“This can no more go on. Though there is provision of jail sentence for violation, the community needs to understand the repercussions. The community fine, at the rate of Rs 2,000, is not meant for earning revenue, but only as a deterrent so that people don’t allow such things to happen in their vicinity,” said Pathak.
Even spirit in any form has been banned. It will not be available even for polishing wooden furniture. There will, however, be production of ethanol and extra neutral alcohol.
Though production in the liquor manufacturing companies located in Bihar would not be affected by the new law, its sale within the state will be prohibited. For transportation of liquor outside state as well for in-transit stocks, digital locks will be used.