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India's Bihar state bans alcohol

image copyrightPrashant Ravi
image captionThe ban was one of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's campaign promises during last year's assembly elections

Authorities in the eastern Indian state of Bihar have announced a complete ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had earlier announced that the ban would be gradually imposed across the state in the next six months.

But he advanced the deadline on Tuesday, saying "now was the right time for social change in Bihar".

The ban was one of Mr Kumar's campaign promises during last year's assembly elections.

Mr Kumar said he decided to go for a complete ban after he received "great support" from the public in the first four days of a ban on locally-brewed alcohol.

"In the first four days of the ban on country liquor [locally-brewed alcohol], it has become a social movement... And so I feel this is the right time for social change in Bihar," the NDTV website quoted him as saying.

Mr Kumar's decision has been supported by all political parties in the state as 243 lawmakers have taken a pledge to "stay away from alcohol".

The ban has received support from women because they generally link drinking by men with domestic violence, harassment and poverty.

But reports say Bihar, which is one of the most backward states in India, will lose nearly 50bn rupees ($752m; £529m) in tax collection due to the ban.

Alcohol is completely banned in the western state of Gujarat while the southern state of Kerala and some other Indian states have imposed a partial ban.

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