Problems with Prohibition
1. Liquor bans have led to a spurt in the consumption of illicit brews. 15 persons died this week following consumption of illicit alcohol in Bihar’s Gopalganj district.
2. Incidence of hooch tragedies tends to be higher when prohibition is in force as the trade is driven underground: the black market grows and production becomes unregulated.
Reasons for such problems
Of late, political parties have resorted to the prohibition card, sensing the growing support for such a move among large sections of women, especially in the lower income groups, who have had to deal with financial neglect and physical abuse by drunken family members.
However, the States starved of revenue from the liquor business have been hesitant to invest adequately in prohibition enforcement. The end result is that bootleggers and illicit brewers just replace liquor shops.
Bihar Prohibition Law
1. In any case, Bihar seems to have gone too far with its prohibition legislation, even providing for capital punishment for those trading in illicit liquor.
2. Provisions for punishing family members above the age of 18 in case of consumption of alcohol at home, and the top management of companies in case of consumption within their company premises, are draconian to the point of being absurd.
3. Also, district magistrates can impose fines on whole villages or communities in case of repeated violations of the prohibition regime.
But other than changes to the law, the government seems to have done nothing to facilitate enforcement on the ground. The liquor trade appears to have gone underground, thus increasing the risks for the most vulnerable sections of the population.