The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Just say cheers, uncork & gulp
- Liquor policy aimed at Rs 700cr revenue draws flak

Patna, July 23: Tipplers in Bihar have a reason to celebrate. Finding a place to guzzle will soon be passé. Liquor outlets paying 10 per cent additional revenue will be permitted to allow its clients drink in the shops.

The liquor outlets allowing its customers to drink at their shops will be known as “on sale counters”. “The shopkeepers will have to pay just 10 per cent additional revenue for this,” the assistant commissioner of excise department, Navin Mishra, says.

The “on sale counters” is one of the several new features of the new liquor policy that the state has adopted. The new policy aims at raising Rs 700 crore of revenue per annum against the existing Rs 300 crore.

Believe it or not, the state itself has become the “wholesaler” of the liquor. It has opened the State Beverage Corporation, which will supply liquor in the outlets and bars across the state.

The new policy envisages that there will be 6,033 liquor shops here against the existing 3,300. “Even village panchayats will have a composite shop of foreign and country liquor,” said an department spokesperson.

Elaborating on the rationale behind the new liquor policy, excise commissioner Amir Subhani, incidentally a devout Muslim associated with the Tabligi Jamat of the community and a teetotaller, says: “The new policy will eliminate the illicit liquor trade. It will also fetch Rs 700 crore of revenue to the state.” The bearded commissioner also dealt at length on the “merits” of the “new shop settlement policy” the government introduced earlier this month. It has made it “relatively easy” for the dhabas to procure the licence to sell liquor and allow tipplers to have the “elixir of life” in the shops itself.

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