Mumbai: The Maharashtra government Tuesday declared total prohibition in Chandrapur district from April 1, making it the third in the Viddarbha region to go dry.
The state cabinet's decision came after a sustained campaign for 10 years by state Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar when he was a Bharatiya Janata Party leader in the opposition benches.
"I am grateful to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and all ministers who saw through the reasoning behind the move and finalised the decision. If it had not materialised, I was planning to resign," Mungantiwar told reporters here.
He said of the 800-plus village panchayat with more than 1,000 villages in Chandrapur, around 515 had voted for prohibition, a massive signature drive in the district saw a majority were in favour it it.
The estimated revenue loss from the move would be around Rs.2 billion, but Mungantiwar justified saying that overall, a family spent around Rs.10,000 on liquor consumption, affecting health, work and development.
"It was a major social health issue and the previous government had formed a high-level committee which advocated prohibition. They submitted their report but it was not implemented. We have now decided to implement it," he said.
To repeated queries on why prohibition was not being implemented in entire Maharashtra, the minister said: "It should be the final objective."
Incidentally, during the campaigning for the 2014 assembly elections, Mungantiwar had promised "total prohibition for Chandrapur" and vowed to quit if it was not implemented.
In the past decade, through various fora, he had campaigned actively for total prohibition in his home district and the move finally fructified after the BJP formed the government and he joined it as a minister.
A few years ago, the state government had declared prohibition in Wardha district, which was long associated with Mahatma Gandhi and his works, and in the Maoist-infested Gadchiroli district.