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India's Bihar state readies alcohol ban

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Bihar is the latest state in India that will ban the consumption of alcohol, fulfilling an election pledge by the state's Chief Minister.

Nitish Kumar confirmed yesterday that he will outlaw alcohol consumption in the north-eastern state from April next year. However, there is still no clarity on what the finer details of the proposed ban will be.

Industry sources have said that Bihar, which has a 6m-case Indian-Made Foreign Liquor market, may either go in for "partial prohibition" or put a blanket ban on widely-consumed cheap country liquor. 

Kumar said he was fulfilling an election promise made to women voters, saying that consumption of liquor in the impoverished state had "badly hit families".

Companies which sell IMFL in the state include United Spirits, Radico Khaitan and Globus Spirits. The state also houses breweries operated by Carlsberg's Indian unit and Cobra Beer. Excise officials clarified, however, that there will be no ban on production.

In 2014-15, Bihar earned up to INR36.5bn (US$549.7m) in excise from liquor, with a major portion of it coming from country liquor sales.

The laws on alcohol are decided on a state level in India, with consumption already prohibited in the states of Gujarat, Kerala, Manipur, and Nagaland.


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