Going, Goa, Gone – Public drinking ban the latest anti-alcohol effort in India


Speaking at a function in Panaji, Goa Chief Manohar Parrikar announced a ban on the drinking of liquor in public places to try and mitigate the “nuisance” caused by drinkers.

The ban will result in fines for any liquor stores allowing consumers to drink near their premises, with the further potential for license revocation.

This move will build on last year’s amendment to the Excise Duty Act, 1964, which imposed penalties on people drinking in ‘No Alcohol Consumption Zones’, including the beaches home to Goa’s famous moon beach parties.

Increased police action on the issue started in May this year, with multiple arrests being made over the past few months. Such developments are unlikely to appeal to tourists, however, and with government statistics putting the number of wholesale liquor shops at 332 and the number of bars serving alcohol at 9,445, the effect will be widespread.

The move can be seen as part of India’s broader battle with the bottle. Both Bihar and Tamilnadu saw crackdowns in 2016, and other states have been dry for decades. Moreover, the industry has been hit by the closures of bars and pubs in places like Kerala, as well as by tax hikes.

Moves against alcohol have also come at a national level. In April 2017, the Supreme Court rolled out a ban on alcohol-vendors and bars within 500 metres of national and state highways. This has since been extended to include sales in hotels and restaurants.

While some states protested and sought workarounds, the law has set a precedent for anti-drinking efforts at a national level. This may be especially dangerous to the drinks industry given that Indian politicians have, in the past, linked alcohol consumption to domestic abuse and rape – using temperance to rally votes. Nonetheless, with consumption becoming more socially acceptable and increasingly popular amongst young people, it is likely such efforts will not stop the flow of alcohol in India.