PATNA: Four days before the proposed statewide human chain in support of the total prohibition in Bihar, the Nitish Kumar-led government on Tuesday decided not to renew the licence of liquor manufacturing units in the State for 2017-18.
The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting held at Rajgir in chief minister Nitish Kumar’s home district of Nalanda. Kumar, who chaired this meeting, is believed to have taken this decision with an eye on neutralising caustic criticism from the State’s main Opposition BJP which had been dubbing the total prohibition as “hypocritical” due to the continuing production of alcoholic beverages in Bihar.
“By exercising the power invested with the government under Section 24 of the Bihar Excise and Prohibition Act, 2016, units engaged in manufacturing of foreign liquor and bottling plants will not be issued licence for 2017-18,” said a senior official after the cabinet meeting. The factories, however, would be allowed to produce ethanol, he added.
The decision came nearly four months after the State government had waived all taxes on liquor manufacturing units in the State. The proposal had come from the Excise and Prohibition department seeking exemption for the liquor-manufacturing units from any tax on export of the products and bottling fees.
Currently there are nine units manufacturing India-made foreign liquor (IMFL) in Bihar. These units have made investments of nearly Rs 1000 crore in the State.
The decision will lead to a further dip in Bihar’s revenue collection and lead to massive loss of employment at the liquor manufacturing units. The government’s decision to waive taxes in September 2016 was taken following protests by employees of a liquor bottling plant in Mokama against the implementation of prohibition.