Under attack from the Opposition for deaths due to consumption of spurious liquor, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today ruled out imposition of prohibition on alcohol saying the measure was not practical, but promised deterrent steps to contain supply of illicit breweries.
"I don't think prohibition (on alcohol) is a practical idea," he said, while reply to the debate on the Governor's speech in the state legislative assembly.
People will find ways to buy liquor through other sources and consume it and the illicit liquor industry will mushroom to play havoc with people's lives, Kumar said.
He recalled how former chief Minister Karpuri Thakur had imposed prohibition in the 1970s, but the measure failed to have desired result on checking consumption of liquor.
It will be more beneficial if the liquor business was regulated properly and deterrent measures taken to reduce consumption of liquor by the people and destroy the illicit liquor business that was worth several thousand crores of rupees.
Among various measures, the state government has hiked the cost of liquor and imposed cess on it to make it dearer for the consumers, besides a decision has been taken not to issue any more licences to open liquor shops, the CM said.
Decrying the opposition's charge that the excise department has allowed liquor shops to come up in villages and panchayats to ensure liberal consumption of the beverages, Kumar said that altogether 5555 licences have been issued for liquor vendors out of which 5163 licences have set up shops in the entire state.
It has been decided not to issue any more liquor licences in the state, the chief minister said.
He also refuted the allegation about growth in liquor consumption and said that per carton consumption in Bihar stood at 15 cartons against 100 in Delhi even as the coverage of liquor shops per one lakh people stood at five against 42 in Karnataka.
The CM, however, candidly admitted, that illicit liquor was being sold by small shops called 'Parchunia' and supplied by unlicensed manufacturers by using spurious materials, including highly dangerous industrial spirit.
The state government has launched a drive against those illicit liquor manufactures and busted their units, besides arrested and seized properties of these people, he said.
During his nearly two-hour long speech, Kumar hit back at the opposition for putting his government on dock on "deteriorating law and order situation and failure to optimally utilise allocation under plan outlay".
He defended himself saying crime figures like murder, dacoity, robbery and kidnapping for ransom has ebbed during the NDA rule as comparison to the corresponding data during the RJD-led rule during which kidnapping had become an industry.
Measures like scientific investigation, speedy chargesheet and trial of the criminals cases, including those related to corruption, have been fast tracked to usher in a peaceful law and order situation and deter those taking to crimes, he said.
The state government has hit another novel idea to deal with crime by seeking cancellation of bails of hardened criminals, besides confiscate their properties amassed through corrupt, ill gotten and criminal means, the CM said.
The enforcement directorate have been involved in the task and the corrupt people have been dealt with under the prevention of Money Laundering Act, CM added.
On utilisation of the allocation under the annual plan outlay, the NDA government has ensured optimisation of the funds during a financial year and results have been positive as comparison to the RJD-led rule during which the then government was unable to use the funds properly, he claimed.