Liquor ban relief for defence enclaves

Cantonment areas, military and air force stations in Bihar, which had gone dry after total prohibition was clamped, will get back their spirits.

By Dev Raj in Patna
  • Published 26.10.16
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Patna, Oct. 25: Cantonment areas, military and air force stations in Bihar, which had gone dry after total prohibition was clamped, will get back their spirits.

The state government has decided to renew liquor licences for their canteens for the financial year 2016-17 in "the interest of soldiers".

The government, in the process, has also yielded to the request of the defence establishment not to impose conditions such as mandatory holograms on liquor bottles brought and sold at their canteens, as well as using vehicles fitted with digital locks and global positioning system (GPS) when transporting liquor from procurement centres located in other states.

A letter in this regard has been issued by excise commissioner Aditya Kumar Das.

The letter, a copy of which is with The Telegraph, says the decision was taken in the light of the requests made by the major general and colonel of Jharkhand and Bihar Sub Area, Danapur, Patna, to allow supply of liquor and transportation like before.

Defence establishments located in Bihar generally procure their liquor supplies from "canteen stores department (CSD)" located at Ramgarh in Jharkhand. For this they need an "import permit" from the Bihar excise department on the basis of which an "export permit" is issued by their Jharkhand counterpart.

Though the Bihar government had exempted cantonment areas from prohibition, the armed forces had refused to accept the conditions imposed for bringing in their alcohol supply. This led to non-renewal of liquor licences of their canteens.

The excise letter though makes it clear that the relaxation is only for working personnel and officers of the armed forces on the condition that liquor will be consumed within cantonment areas, military and air force stations.

Talking to The Telegraph, excise commissioner Das said: "The condition of having hologram on bottles has been waived because they already have 'CSD canteen' and 'for armed forces use only' stamped on them. Similarly, there is no need for digital locks and GPS facility in vehicles as the liquor supplies will be transported under military escort as in the past."

Das said action would be taken against military personnel if they consume liquor "within the exempted premises but roam outside".

Legal experts said the exemption could open the floodgates for similar demands from other groups.

Patna High Court advocate Satyavrat Verma said: "Churches could seek similar exemption for sacramental wine by invoking the right to religion. Paramilitary forces like CRPF, BSF and SSB too may demand relaxation."