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Bengal refuses to help Bihar to enforce prohibition

If vehicles that are apprehended with liquor bottles is any indication, most of trucks that enter the dry state with alcohol come from Bengal.

kolkata Updated: Jun 13, 2017 13:33 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
Nitish Kumar,Mamata Banerjee,Bihar
One of the constant irritants of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar is the clandestine entry of trucks in his state from neighbouring states and Nepal with liquor bottles.(HT Photo)

The Bengal government has refused to check Bihar-bound trucks for liquor bottles, something that the Bihar administration requested its neighbouring state to help it enforce the prohibition.

The refusal comes against the backdrop of differences between Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and her Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar over demonetisation.

Read: After liquor prohibition, Bihar to achieve de-addiction: Nitish Kumar

A joint team of Bihar police and excise & prohibition department officials met their counterparts in West Bengal on June 8, in Kolkata and a placed a request to check commercial vehicles terminating in Bihar so that those carrying alcohol to the dry state are apprehended before they enter its territory.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar incurred the wrath of Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee when he refused to join her in her campaign against demonetisation. ( HT Photo )

Sources said, on an average 20 to 25 trucks carrying liquor bottles are apprehended at the borders of Bihar, most of which are from Nepal. Bengal accounts for the second highest ‘culprits.

The Bengal officials expressed their inability to extend any cooperation in this regard citing manpower problem as well as some technical problems.

A senior official from West Bengal excise department told HT that it is impossible to check each and every Bihar- bound truck from Bengal and identify those carrying liquor bottles.

Read: MCD election: Nitish Kumar calls for liquor ban in Delhi

“Secondly, possessing liquor with valid cash receipts is not an offence in West Bengal. So there is difficulty in seizing liquors from Bihar-bound trucks, or any other vehicle,” he said.

The Mamata Banerjee government earns more than 10% of its own tax revenue from alcohol. The Bengal administration has recently taken steps to increase availability of liquor in the state. ( HT Photo )

Officials from Bihar Excise & Prohibition Department said a team will approach the governments of two other neighbouring states of Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh with the same appeal. Bihar officials are confident of getting positive response from both these states unlike West Bengal.

If Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh governments reacts positively to Bihar’s plea and stop trucks carrying liquor bottles within their borders, Bihar police can focus on the Bihar-Nepal border through which most of the vehicles carrying liquor sneak in.

Read: No liquor ban impact on revenue, says Nitish

Bengal government sources said Mamata Banerjee is extremely unhappy with the role of Nitish Kumar during her nationwide protest against demonetisation announced on November 8 last year.

On November 30, 2016, when Mamata Banerjee organised an anti- demonetisation rally in Patna, she described Nitish Kumar as a “traitor” without naming him for supporting the note ban.

Sources said, on an average 20 to 25 trucks carrying liquor bottles are apprehended at the borders of Bihar, most of which are from Nepal. Bengal accounts for the second highest ‘culprits’.

First Published: Jun 13, 2017 13:31 IST