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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

City pub owners sweat over liquor sale curbs before Puja

Arpit Basu, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, October 12, 2012
First Published: 15:11 IST(12/10/2012) | Last Updated: 15:12 IST(12/10/2012)

If you had plans to slosh your gills with a peg or two at plush city eateries or watering holes this Puja, chances are that you may come away disappointed. Reason?

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There is yet no word on whether the state excise department would permit bars, pubs and nightclubs to serve booze beyond the stipulated midnight deadline.

The excise department, as per regulations, issues bar licenses to all eateries and nightclubs for selling liquor. However, the license allows bar operators to confine their liquor sales till midnight.

The nightclubs are further mandated to apply for a fresh late night closure license, which could hand them the rope to sell booze till 2 in the morning. However, anticipating heavy footfalls during the festive days, the restaurant owners too apply for late closure license in the lead-up to the Puja.

“We have received applications for late closure licenses from almost all nightclubs and bars during the Puja days. However, we haven’t yet taken a call on whether to issue such licenses. Since April, we have been keeping a strict stand about issuing late closure licenses,” state excise commissioner Deb Kumar Chakraborty told HT on Thursday.

In the wake of the furore over a single mother being outraged by three youths following a late night vigil at a Park Street pub, the excise department ceased to issue late closure licenses to all city nightclubs.

However after much wrangling between nightclub owners and finance department officials, the state administration agreed to issue late closure license to certain selective joints in the city.

“It’s ridiculous to put curbs on city nightclubs in the light of the Park Street rape, since it took place in a moving car. What’s more surprising is that the pub, which was in the news in the wake of the rape, was the first beneficiary after the government agreed to issue late closure licenses to select joints,” a excise department official told HT.

City nightclubs and bars have moved fresh applications, seeking extended night closure licenses to sell liquor till 4 in the morning between Saptami and Navami.

The pub owners could even settle for a license to trade booze till 2am from Saptami to Navami, should the excise officials so decide.

“Last year too, the government had allowed us permission to sell liquor till 2 am on two Puja days. But we aren’t sure about the government’s stand this year. We are worried about our business taking a hit, should we fail to secure a license this year,” SK Khullar, owner of Amber restaurant, told HT.


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