Indian weddings mean lots of rituals, dresses, jewellery, food and last but not the least, alcohol.

The Nitish Kumar government had declared Bihar a dry state on 26th of November in 2015. He declared a total ban on alcohol on 5th April, 2016. Nitish government amended Bihar Prohibition and Excise Bill, 2016, and according to this amendment, the government would take legal action against a woman if her husband drinks, even if it is without her knowing it. The amended bill said that if any adult family member is found drinking, selling, making or distributing liquor then it would be presumed that others gave permission for it.

So many families have shifted their family functions to cities outside of Bihar. Now, the West Bengal government is in the process of setting up mega wedding venues in townships close to the Bihar border. Their aim is to attract all these family functions to West Bengal.

Bengal tourism minister Gautam Deb said: “we came to know that many families in Bihar are shifting their wedding functions to places such as Benaras in UP and Koderma or Ranchi in Jharkhand.” The minister added that some had even selected Kolkata as a venue but at a high price.

Gautan Deb further said: “if we can offer venues closer to east Bihar, families from that region can shift there at lower expenses and the state can also earn some revenues.”

The minister said that the government is now considering the places where they can build such hotels. Six towns have been chosen for this project. These are Dalkhola, Karandighi and Raigunj in North Dinajpur district and Ranigunj, Asansol and Durgapur in West Burdwan district.

An official said: “these wedding venues will be managed and owned by the state tourism department. They would attract wedding parties from Bihar through private tourism agencies against a commission.”

These wedding venues will have big wedding halls, guest rooms, lawns and other infrastructure and definitely have the bar licences.

A tourism department official said: “the cost will be worked out shortly depending on what kind of facilities most marriage parties would like to have.”

Alcohol is the USP of this move. In the year 2017-18 Bengal collected 19% revenues from alcohol.

Ever since the ban on alcohol in Bihar in 2016, Bengal has benefitted. There was a 50% increase in the revised estimate of excise revenues for 2017-18 at Rs 8,700 crores from a budget estimate of Rs 5,710 crores.

Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra Projected 82% excise collections this year rise compared with last year.

During the festive seasons drinkers go to places where there are no restrictions on alcohol. Gautam Deb said: “these days, sales go up every weekend, and several new tourist lodges, bar-cum-restaurants have come up in the region in the past two years.”

(Adapted from TheHindustanTimes.com)