June 30, 2017
Bengaluru: Your weekend ritual may have been pub hopping in the city’s most happening addresses, but that may soon come to an abrupt end, thanks to the SC ruling on liquor ban that stops bars and pubs from selling alcohol within 500 metres of a highway. Is that confusing, because your favourite joints are in Brigade Road, MG Road and Church Street and they aren’t near the national highway.
“ Bangalore is a young vibrant city which has earned itself the status of the ‘Pub Capital of India’. And suddenly, one ruling by the SC strips it of its tag. We are very sad as regular party goers, we won’t be able to drink and chill in these pubs that we have been visiting for years,” says Rito Subhro Bhattacharya, Engineering student.
Well, on the record books, old Madras Road and MG Road have been tagged as highways, they are not used as highways and are maintained by the BBMP. And that apart, as many as six highways crisscross the Karnataka capital, and some 400 pubs, bars, liquor shops, about 20 star hotels, and many swanky clubs stand to lose their licences because of the ban. “ As far as I know, these highways in the heart of the city are only in the record books,” says Sukrutha Sudharshan, Architect. Adding to the same line of thought, Debjeet Sarkar, Hotel Management student, and an experienced Hotelier says, “It is important that the confusion is cleared at the earliest,to cause least damage to the hospitality business. Individuals need to be responsible, just diktats will do very less to the cause. People can still drink and drive if they want to. Treat adults like adults.”
According to reports, the state government is in talks with the NHAI to convince them to hand over the roads. “ It isn’t a very well thought out decision. The ban can throw nearly a million people out of work. Because of this state governments can lose approx 200,000 crore or more. The salaries of many are at stake. Before giving out this ruling they should have done away with confusion over what is a highway, what will be considered a highway,” says Deepika Deshpande, Training and Audit Manager at Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality Pvt Ltd. The state governments and restaurant associations are struggling hard to seek the “denotification” of highways within cities so that they can be classified as urban roads instead.
“ The state government should have been a little more pro active. This notification was given for April 1, and they haven’t been able to de-notify a total of 45 km of six national highways coursing through Bengaluru with the Centre’s help. “The government has been acting, reacting in a snail’s pace. The only way now is to relocate to some other place, and I am sure they will get the licence for that. Bangalore will forever be the pub capital, because people here enjoy their drink, and that sustains the pubs here,” says R. Venkat, IT professional and a wine connoisseur.