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Tuesday, March 31, 1998 Published at 13:08 GMT 14:08 UK


Prohibition ends in Haryana, India
image: [ Prohibition in Haryana led to the loss of many jobs in alcohol-related industries ]
Prohibition in Haryana led to the loss of many jobs in alcohol-related industries

Prohibition in the Indian state of Haryana just outside the capital, Delhi, is being lifted only 21 months after the newly elected government banned all alcohol sales and consumption. The ban cost the state treasury tens of millions of dollars in lost excise revenue, led to the loss of thousands of jobs in brewing, distilling and retailing alcoholic drinks and clogged the court system with charges against people caught intoxicated or in possession of liquor. Our India correspondent, Daniel Lak, says the end of enforced sobriety in Haryana is an abrupt transition in a state that was once proud to be dry.

[ image: The Fireball nightclub - expecting a revival]
The Fireball nightclub - expecting a revival
Motels, clubs and resorts used cheap drink and long opening hours to lure people away from nearby Delhi in their tens of thousands. But then, the newly elected government banned booze, and places like the Fireball hi-tech disco on the Delhi border with Haryana found it almost impossible to attract patrons with only cola and fruit juice to propel them onto its space-age dance floor.

Alka Goel, nightclub manager: 'When is Fireball opening? It's going to be nice.' (0' 18')
Alka Goelm, the manager of the disco says happy days are back again, and membership has never been more popular.

But those who fell victim to the rigorously enforced prohibition laws, more than 1,000 people, are angry. They claim the government gave police clear instructions to harass them and tally up as many criminal charges for drunkenness or possession of alcohol as possible.

[ image: Shops will soon be able to sell locally brewed alcohol]
Shops will soon be able to sell locally brewed alcohol
People now have criminal records for something that is no longer a crime - even for the most minor former offences.

And there are women's groups who supported prohibition as a means of ending domestic violence by drunken husbands and the squandering of scarce family resources on drink. It didn't work.

'My brother was coming home and he'd had a few drinks.' (0' 17')
Smuggling and home distilling made criminals and corrupt officials rich and sometimes left poor people dead from drinking tainted alcohol. This probably closes the chapter on prohibition in India, although one state, Gujarat, still maintains a partial liquor ban.

Mahatma Gandhi wanted prohibition but he clearly lived in a different India from that of today.

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