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Jharkhand: Brace up for liquor ‘rationing’ from Aug 1

August 1 onwards, a person can buy only four bottles (3 litres) of IMFL in a day. For beer, the restriction is eight bottles (5.2 litres) a day. The limit for country liquor is merely two bottles (1.2 litres) for a person in a day.

ranchi Updated: Jul 30, 2017 12:31 IST
Sanjoy Dey
Sanjoy Dey
Hindustan Times, Ranchi
Jharkhand,Liquor,JSBCL
Wine shop in Ranchi (Diwakar Prasad/ Hindustan Times)

Booze lovers brace up for liquor rationing and long queues at alcohol shops in the state from August 1. The reason: Jharkhand State Beverage Corporation Limited (JSBCL) is all set to take over the retail business of liquor with 200 shops across the state from Tuesday. Currently, there are 1,500 liquor shops selling Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and beer in the state.

The JSBCL has also decided to strictly implement the liquor policy, which restricts the quantity of liquor sold to a person in a day. August 1 onwards, a person can buy only four bottles (3 litres) of IMFL in a day. For beer, the restriction is eight bottles (5.2 litres) a day. The limit for country liquor is merely two bottles (1.2 litres) for a person in a day.

“From August 1, liquor will be sold only from JSBCL authorised stores in Jharkhand. In first phase, we are opening 200 stores that will be increased in future with availability of manpower,” said JSBCL managing director Vinod Shankar Sharma.

He said they were facing acute shortage of human resource. “It will take some time to increase manpower due to some legal issues,” Sharma said.

The Jharkhand cabinet, in February this year, had approved an excise and prohibition department’s proposal, paving the way for the JSBCL to control the retail business of IMFL and beer from August 1, 2017.

The decision, however, received sharp criticism from the opposition as well as cabinet ministers in the BJP-led Jharkhand government. Even Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar conducted many rallies protesting the government’s move and demanded a ban on sale and consumption of liquor in the tribal state.

The state government had argued then that the move would restrict illegal trade of liquor and consumption of spurious alcohol that not only causes revenue loss to the state but also impacts human health.

Jharkhand Wine Dealers’ Association (JWDA) officials said that over 30,000 people, who were directly or indirectly associated with the liquor trade, would face livelihood problem from the step. “Jharkhand has around 1,500 liquor shops. Each shop has employed at least three persons. Over 5,000 people, including the shop owners, will be jobless with the government’s decision,” said JWDA president Anup Chawla.

He said unruly scenes with long queues would be seen outside the liquor stores due to limited government liquor shops in Ranchi and other parts of the state.

At present, there are 100 liquor shops in Ranchi, while JSBCL has decided to open 30-35 shops here. In the first phase, 15 shops will be opened in capital.

“Now, a rickshaw puller and owner of an SUV owner will have to stand in the same queue. Shortage of liquor will encourage its illegal trade. This will certainly impact the business and cause revenue loss to the government,” Chawla said. “We have handed over a memorandum to the excise secretary to reconsider the decision,” he added.

Jharkhand is considered second largest consumer of liquor after Chhattisgarh. A survey conducted by the Registrar General of India (RGI), which was released on June 8 last year, said 23.4% of men above 15 years of age in Jharkhand drank alcohol. The figure for Chhattisgarh is 33%.

First Published: Jul 30, 2017 12:31 IST