Odisha can’t ban liquor, consumption personal affair: Minister

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Wednesday said a blanket ban on consumption and manufacture of liquor was “unrealistic”, as consumption was a personal affair.

“It is not a realistic step to declare total prohibition in the state. Since liquor consumption is a personal affair, ban on it by the government would lead to illegal and illicit trade of liquor,” Excise Minister Damodar Rout said in his reply to a written question by BJD legislator Amar Prasad Satapathy in the assembly.

Even though he admitted that use of intoxicating substances was harmful for health, the minister said the excise department was taking steps to control illicit liquor.

He said the excise directorate has no information about any bill for total prohibition in the state.

Except Bihar, there is no instance of total prohibition in neighbouring states, he said.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had earlier decided to ban alcohol in his state from April 1.

The Odisha government earned Rs.2,085.99 crore as excise revenue till February in the current financial year.

It collected Rs.2,038.79 crore in 2014-15, Rs.1,780.29 crore in 2013-14 and Rs.1,499.91 crore in 2012-13, informed Rout.

He said the state government has issued a notification in January 2014 to relocate liquor shops 50 km away from national and state highways.

Out of 704 liquor shops, the excise commissioner has issued instructions to relocate 529 shops and work was in process to move the remaining shops.