Bihar govt approves scheme for uplift of those involved in liquor, toddy trade

Patna: The Bihar government today gave its nod for a scheme for the economic uplift of those sections of the society which have been traditionally dependent on manufacture and sale of country-made liquor and toddy for their livelihood.

The scheme, which would involve an expenditure of Rs 840 crore over the next three years, was approved at a meeting of the state cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, principal secretary, Cabinet Secretariat Department, Arun Kumar Singh told reporters.

Kumar had announced a complete ban on sale and consumption of liquor in the state two years ago. The move, which has been appreciated by the state’s women, has however drawn criticism from leaders like former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi who have underscored that a large section of the state’s Dalits were adversely hit by prohibition.

Opposition parties have also been alleging that most of the people who have been convicted by courts of law under the state’s stringent prohibition law belong to poor Mahadalit families.

Other decisions taken at today’s cabinet meeting include approval for the establishment of “Biharsharif Smart City Limited Company”, the principal secretary said. Biharsharif is the district headquarter of Nalanda, from where the Chief Minister himself hails. Development of the town as a smart city is expected to involve an expenditure of about Rs 1517 crore.

The state government would contribute Rs 488 crore for the project, besides another Rs 2.50 crore for the company’s registration, Singh said. Another key decision taken at the cabinet meeting was approval for raising Rs 968.88 crore through equity shares for AT and C losses suffered by the Bihar State Power Holding Company, the principal secretary added.

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