Ranchi, Feb 28 (IANS) Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das, who has been drawing flak for his government’s move to sell liquor through its own outlets to generate revenue, on Tuesday said that he favoured an eventual total prohibition, however it’s a social and not a political issue.
“I do not want to politicise the issue. There is a liquor ban in Bihar but people are dying everyday due to the consumption of illicit liquor,” he said, adding that the liquor shops would start closing down as people will gradually become aware about the ill-effects of the alcohol consumption.
The Jharkhand cabinet on February 21 approved the proposal of the Excise Department that the state government would sell liquor in the state.
But the move did not go down well with the opposition parties as well as some Ministers in Jharkhand who slammed the government’s move.
“The cabinet has passed the decision to sell liquor but I am of the view that the state government should not sell liquor,” said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Saryu Rai.
Echoing his view, Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Ranchi Ram Tahal Chaudhary said, “On one hand people are dying by consuming liquor and on the other hand the state government is promoting the sale of liquor.”
Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Babulal Marandi of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) also had written to Chief Minister Raghubar Das, urging him to impose liquor ban and promised full support to the move.
The All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU), which is a junior ally in the state government, also demanded that total prohibition be imposed in Jharkhand.
Referring to a total ban on the sell and consumption of liquor in Bihar, Das said that his government did not want to do “stunts” similar to what the neighbouring state has done and added, the total ban can be imposed only after the people become aware about the problem.
He said that his government was spreading awareness among the people and the liquor-free villages would be given Rs 1 lakh.
He clarified that liquor would not be sold on the highways and also in tribal-dominated areas. “There are 13-14 districts in the state where tribal population is 50 per cent or above. Liquor would not be sold in such areas,” he said.