August , 2018
Dry states and their current dryness
15:24 pm

Anwesha Chowdhury

Indian alcohol stands as the second, third or fourth largest revenue generator in different states in terms of contribution to a state’s coffer. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 30% of the Indian population drink alcohol on a regular basic out of which 11% of the people are heavy drinkers. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2015 report showed, alcoholism has increased at a rate of 55% between 1992 and 2012. Out of heavy revenue contributors, states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu hold a strong place when it comes to alcohol. In the 2012-2013 financial year, the total excise and commercial tax revenue of Kerala (IMFL and toddy) were Rs. 8,000 crore from alcohol; approxi-mately 22% of the total government revenue. While India is holding the largest whisky market in the world, five states of the country have banned this totally. Gujarat, Naga-land, Mizoram and Manipur, officially pro-hibits drinking liquor, recently Bihar has been added in the list.

Legal perspective

About liquor ban, Article 47 of Indian constitution says, “The state shall endeavour to bring about prohibi-tion of the consumption except for medi-cinal purposes of intoxi-cating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.” But there is an exception; foreigners and NRIs can get a permit having a validity of 30 days.

Most of the people in India are not aware of the law. One of the reasons is that the law depends from a state to state. Alcohol law is included in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India and comes under the state list. Therefore, the state can modify the alcohol laws according to their own wish. The states that define selling alcohol is illegal, are called as ‘Dry States’ in India. The sale and consumption of alcohol is banned and restricted in the following 6 states of India. The states are Bihar {Excise (Amendment) Bill 2016 Section 19(4)}, Gujarat {Bombay Prohibition (Gujarat Amendment) Bill, 2009}, Lakshadweep {Bombay Prohibition (Gujarat Amendment) Bill, 2009}, Manipur {(The Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act of 1991)} and Nagaland {(Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act, 1989)}. Gujarat is the first state that comes with a death penalty for producers and sellers of home-made liquor.

Gujarat as a dry state

Gujarat is the first state in India that banned liquor consumption from 1961. On July 7th 2009, Gujarat law {Bombay Prohibition (Gujarat Amendment) Bill, 2009} prohibited anyone from storing, producing, selling and consuming alcoholic beverages. 

The main reason behind alcohol ban in Gujarat was to pay homage to the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi, who was born in Porbandar. Mahatma Gandhi was always against the idea of drinking alcohol and its consumption. October 2, his birthday is celebrated as a national dry day.

One of the reasons why Gujarat banned alcohol is because of the poison present in spurious liquor and deaths caused by it. This is the main reason behind the 2009 amendment In 2009, around 400 people died from the consumption of methyl alcohol.


One of the objectives behind banning alcohol in Gujarat was for reducing social issues and domestic violence. Ministry of Women and Child development did a study about sates according to women safety. The result showed Gujarat is in a good condition about it and safer than other states where alcohol is legal. “As drinking is illegal, generally here it’s rare to see any drunk person roaming around the road”- as stated by a resident of Gujarat state.

But on the other hand, a dark world has been created in Gujrat. It is probably the first Indian state that banned liquor but this led to promoting an underground world of illegal alcohol consumption and sale. Illegal alcohol is known as desi daroo or country liquor that is made and usually sold among the consumers belonging to an economically poor background. It comes in 200ml plastic pouches for `10. These get transported in city areas of Gujarat and consumers maintain some unique way. For instance, it is carried in a can of milk through cycles or motor cycles. Small local suppliers or assistants of bootleggers, also called “folders,” routinely change their cell phone numbers.

Alcoholic Anonymous, a national organisation which works for helping people who are addicted to alcohol, told BE that they don’t have any issue with personal choices of people consuming alcohol, but they help people if they want to leave the addiction and they have some offices in Gujarat.

Bihar, the recent dry state

The Government of Bihar has announced ban on the sale and consumption of liquor in Bihar on November 26 and it came into force on April 1, 2016, for larger public interest. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar took the decision to say no to the liquor.

According to a National Media study, alcoholism led to an increase in crime. The Bihar Chief Minister took a decision to create a better state for woman. The idea was to reduce violence against them by alcoholics by reducing alcohol consumption and sale. Legally it came out like: “1) One can’t drink at home 2) One can’t keep liquor at home 3) One can’t bring liquor into Bihar 4) Defence canteen exempted 5) Foreigners are also prohibited to carry and consume alcohol on the soil of Bihar”.


Women Safety:  A large part of the earning money used to be spent in buying alcohol. After alcohol ban they are having enough money to live a better life. According to study done by the Bihar Government, liquor ban in Bihar has made women feel like opinion holders and they are spending their money on daily needs and food items instead of alcohol. Violence against them has come down somewhat.

Women as opinion holder: Election Commission data have shown the voting percentage of women has increased from before. When in 2010, voting percentage of women was 3.37%, in 2015 after the alcohol ban announcement it came to 7.16%, that was really noticeable. According to the Press Trust of India, 58% of women felt they were given more respect and played a better role in making household decisions, while 22% said their opinion was counted not just for household matters, but village issues as well.

Economic Development

After the ban was implemented in 2016, the Asian Development Research Institute or ADRI did research that found the sale of expensive sarees rose by 1,751 % and expensive dress materials rose by 910%. It found the consumption of honey and cheese rose by 380% and 200% respectively in the first six months since the ban.


Under the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC), churches stood up courageously against this menace of rampant sale of alcohol in 1989 and continued its protest until the NLTP Act 1989 was passed by the Nagaland Legislative Assembly. The state government under the pressure of churches passed the NLTP Act.

There were health and religious reasons behind it. According to churches in Nagaland, alcohol is mainly used to enslave and destroy its users and ultimately destroy families and societies as well.


Under the pressure of churches, in 1989, the act was passed quickly and thus came with some “legal loopholes”. For example, there is no difference in the degree of punishment between the illegal import and export of one bottle of alcohol or a full truck load. The defined commercial quantity as laid dawn under the NDPS Act is not applicable in this Prohibition Act. Like other dry states here also illegal business of liquor runs and the bootleggers know these legal lacunas and get away.


The Lakshadweep Prohibition Regulation, 1979, bans the import, export, transportation, possession and manufacture of liquor or any intoxicating drugs in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep. The union territory of Lakshadweep has completely banned the consumption and sale of alcohol. The consumption of alcohol is permitted only in the island of Bangaram,which is an inhabited island.

Mizoram and Manipur

The Mizoram Liquor Total Prohibition Act, 1995 banned sale and consumption of alcohol effective from February 20, 1997. In 2007, the MLTP Act created an amendment to allow guavas and grapes to create wine, but with some restrictions on the alcohol content and volume.

On the other side, prohibition was enforced in the Imphal East, Imphal West, Thoubal and Bishnupur districts of Manipur by R.K. Ranbir Singh. It came into effect from April 01, 1991. Later the state legislative assembly passed the Manipur Liquor Prohibition Bill, 2002 which lifted prohibition in five districts of the state.

Each state where alcohol has been banned has had varying degrees of success rate. In every state, there is also an illegal business that not only is harming people but is a source of black money. So whatever the reason and implementation process, the result varies. The positive thing to mention ia that women in these states are much safer according to reports and surveys.



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