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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Maharashtra raises age bar for drinking alcohol

Twenty-one is too early to start drinking, believes the Maharashtra government, which on Wednesday (01-June-2011) raised the age for alcohol consumption by four years, to 25.
The minimum age for beer consumption continues to be 21, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan told reporters in a press conference. The decision is part of the government's de-addiction policy that seeks to tighten the implementation of laws on alcohol abuse and illicit sale of liquor.

There is no age stipulation on consumption of wine. "There are pictorial warnings on liquor bottles, but not that of wine. Wine is an important industry," Mr. Chavan said.

The alcohol content in wine (12% to 22%) is much higher than that of beer (4% t o 8%).

Maharashtra is among the very few states that issues drinking permits based on the age of the person. Though the violation of the age limit has always invited heavy penalty and imprisonment up to six months, the law has rarely been implemented. It’s up to the excise department to ensure that people adhere to the new age restrictions.
The new policy also includes provisions that allow sale of only two liquor bottles (or 750 ml) a week to one permit holder. Penal action has been proposed for those violating this norm. Citizens will also be required to take permission from the excise department or the local police officials for serving alcohol during public functions, including birthdays and marriage parties.

Action would be taken against those flouting this norm, said Sachin Ahir, minister of state, social justice department, which formulated the policy. The local police station and excise officials will also have powers to revoke the drinking permit and initiate criminal action against someone found creating nuisance after getting drunk at a public function.

The Cabinet also approved several other measures to discourage drinking and to control the sale of illicit liquor.

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