Patna: Expressing his anguish over a recent hooch tragedy that claimed eight lives in the state, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said that the ban on alcohol is in the interest of society.
The Chief Minister appealed to people to cooperate with the government to curb such incidents as liquor is “bad for health and the society”.
“We imposed the ban on liquor in the state as alcohol is a dirty thing. Ill-effects of alcohol get multiplied when consumed in an adulterated form. I know majority of people are in favour of the prohibition in the state. A handful of residents violate it,” the Chief Minister told reporters on the sidelines of his weekly public outreach programme, ‘Janata Ke Darbaar Mein Mukhyamantri‘.
Referring to the ban on liquor consumption by his government in April 2016, Mr Kumar said, “It was Mahatma Gandhi’s wish. Requests from our women had made us impose it.”
He also recounted how people from all walks of life, including legislators and officials, came forward in support of the prohibition.
The Chief Minister rued some people “indulge in acts that go against our well-intentioned move”, and said strict action is being taken against those who are violating the prohibitory order.
Despite the ban, rising deaths in the state due to illicit liquor consumption has been a matter of concern for the state government.
From January to October this year, around 70 people died and many others lost their eyesight after allegedly consuming spurious liquor in Nawada, West Champaran, Muzaffarpur, Siwan and Rohtas districts.
The latest hooch tragedy occurred in Rupauli village in Muzaffarpur district. Eight died since October 28, and four have been undergoing treatment at different hospitals in the district.
Earlier, four persons died in a hooch tragedy in Siwan on October 26.
Responding to a question on rising prices of petrol and diesel, Mr Kumar said, “Consumers are facing hardship due to the soaring fuel prices. It”s a national issue.”
Patna has already joined the list of state capitals where the petrol price per litre has crossed the Rs 110-mark.
Asked about his reaction to Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav’s remarks, “comparing” Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, with Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Bihar Chief Minister said, “What should I say on this? Jinnah might be a hero in his own country. Mahatma Gandhi never wanted partition of India.”
Mr Yadav on Sunday spoke of Gandhi, Patel, Nehru and Jinnah in the same breath as leaders who fought for India’s independence, prompting criticism from the BJP.
Asked about his comments on media reports that claimed fund crunch hit the Centre’s flagship scheme – the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the Chief Minister said, “I have already called a meeting to review the ongoing projects under the programme in the state”.
Mr Kumar met over 187 complainants at the public outreach programme.
Mr Kumar looked into the complaints related to general administration, law and order, and vigilance departments of the state government and directed senior officials to help the complainants, an official added.