The government of West Bengal is in the process of setting up mega wedding venues in townships close to the Bihar border so that families from the western neighbour, which is a dry state, can shift functions & raise toasts.
“We came to know that many families in Bihar are shifting their wedding functions to places such as Benaras in UP and Koderma or Ranchi in Jharkhand,”
Bengal tourism minister Gautam Deb said nothing that some even moved their functions to Kolkata, at a high cost.
He said,”If we can offer venues closer to east Bihar, families from that region can shift there at lower expenses and the state can also earn some revenues.”
Six townships have been chosen for this purpose. These are Dalkhola, Karandighi & Raigunj in North Dinajpur district and Ranigunj, Asansol & Durgapur in West Burdwan district.
An official said,”These wedding venues will be managed and owned by the state tourism department. They would attract wedding parties from Bihar through private tourism agencies against a commission.”
Apart from bar licences, the wedding venues will have big wedding halls, guest rooms, lawns & other infrastructure.
A tourism department said,”The cost will be worked our shortly depending on what kind of facilities most marriage parties would like to have.”
The USP of the move is alcohol, taxes of which contributed to 19% of Bengal’s revenues on 2017-18.
Bengal profited from the prohibition in Bihar since April 2016. In 2017-18, Bengal’s excise revenue rose to Rs 8,700 crore in the revised estimate, a 50% jump over the budget estimate of Rs 5,710 crore.
In 2018-19, the Bengal finance minister has projected 82% rise in excise collections compared to last year.
Patna-based event manager Atul Kashyap said,”The case is not only for wedding ceremonies but also applicable for corporate events and birthday parties, among others.”
According to Trinamool Congress MLA Manotosh Deb, from Karandighi in North Dinajpur district that borders Bihar, such a project will provide employment to local people.
He said,”Not just wedding venues, allied services such as decorators, flower suppliers and caterers will get a boost.”
Incidentally, liquor sales got a boost in North Dinajpur district since Bihar government imposed prohibition.
Initially, the influx of tipplers from Bihar was during festive seasons such as Holi, Durga Puja, Christmas & New Year.
Deb said,”These days, sales go up every weekend, and several new tourist lodges, bar-cum-restaurants have come up in the region in the past two years.”