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India’s third most populous state bans alcohol

Bihar has become the latest Indian state to completely ban the sale and consumption of alcohol as prohibition measures continue to sweep across the country.

Bihar, India's third most populous state, has implement a total ban on alcohol with immediate effect
Bihar, India’s third most populous state, has implemented a total ban on alcohol with immediate effect

Plans to implement prohibition in Bihar – India’s third biggest state by population – were first announced in November last year as part of efforts to curb excessive alcohol consumption.

Nitish Kumar, Bihar’s chief minister, said heavy drinking in the nation was causing “suffering to women” through domestic violence. Kumar initially said the ban would be phased in over six months, but now claims public support for the ban means the government has implemented prohibition with immediate effect.

“I feel this is the right time for social change in Bihar,” Kumar is quoted by The Guardian as saying.

Bihar previously attempted to enforce a blanket alcohol ban in the late 1970s, but failed due to pervasive smuggling from other states. Kumar has warned that if illicit production and smuggling follow the latest prohibition attempt, the state will deal with the problem “strongly”.

The ban will affect retailers and bar-owners and is estimated to cost the state £327m in lost tax revenues.

Bihar has one of the largest populations in India, meaning up to 100 million people could be affected by the ban, which will be one of the world’s most far-reaching.

In August 2014, officials proposed to ban the sale and consumption of alcohol in Kerala – the largest liquor-consuming state in India.

Prohibition already exists in the Indian states of Gujarat, Mizoram, and Nagaland, parts of Manipur, and the Union Territory of Lakshadweep.

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