Kathmandu: The complete ban on alcohol in India's Bihar state seems to have come as a boon for small traders in Nepal who sell low-quality alcohol. Reports here say there has been a sudden rise in small huts along the India-Nepal border to target alcohol customers from Bihar.
Authorities from India's border districts have sought help and cooperation from their Nepali counterparts to check the possible smuggling of alcohol and increase in surveillance along the border.
Bihar imposed a complete ban on sale of alcohol from April 1.
At a recent meeting in Forbesganj in Bihar, Indian authorities sought help from their Nepali counterparts to curb the movement of people seeking alcohol from Nepal.
Toyam Rai, chief district officer of Sunsari district who led the Nepali team, said that due to the open international border, there was high chance of smuggling of alcohol from Nepal to India, and so the Indian authorities asked Nepal to cooperate in preventing the smuggling.
Himanshu Sharma, district magistrate of Araria in Bihar, local police chiefs and others also participated as part of the Indian side in the meeting.
Reports said mostly people from the working class come to the Nepali side to buy alcohol. But when there is a holiday, businessmen and youth also cross the border.
Local hoteliers say there has been a 2-3 fold rise in sale of alcohol in the past one week, since the ban in Bihar.
Nepali traders have now increased the prices of local alcohol, but reports said the quality was quite poor due to the sudden rise in demand.
"With the ban on alcohol in Bihar, the Indian authorities have asked us to curb the smuggling of alcohol from Nepal. They are also concerned that after the ban, criminals may sneak into Nepal that will further invite security complications," said Sunsari Superintendent of Police Sandip Bhandari.
"With this new unfolding situation, we may face new security threats along the border," said Rai. "We have assured the Indian side about the security arrangements on the border."
(Anil Giri can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)