Good news for tipplers in Bhopal. The government has extended the deadline for closing of bars to 12 midnight applicable from April 1.
The FL 2 (stand alone restaurant bar license) applicable for standalone bars has been increased from Rs 6.40 lakh to Rs 8 lakh annually while the FL 3 (hotel bar license) applicable on hotels with rooms have been hiked from Rs 10.60 lakh to Rs 12 lakh annually.
"Following the hike in license fees, the bar owners demanded an increase in their operational hours so that they have greater chances of recovering the money," said an excise department source.
He, however, added that the operational hours of bars have always been more than the retail outlets.
"Extension in opening hours of the bars will hopefully make night life in Bhopal more vibrant," said Sanjay Singh Parmar, general manager (GM) Motel Shiraz.
"Most standalone pubs and bars had been demanding that their timings be extended on grounds that they start business late and have a small window for operation", he said.
In another decision, MP tourism-owned hotels and heritage and star-rated hotels with bars will now be free to purchase liquor from excise department-owned warehouses.
With this the government has done away with the earlier clause that compelled bar owners to purchase liquor from stipulated retail outlets.
"The decision is welcome as it would help hotels to stock brands sometimes deliberately not sold by retailers thereby giving the consumer a wider choice.
"The price at which purchases would be made would also be lower and can be passed on to the consumer," said a hotel industry insider.
Working hours of retail outlets too have been extended by an hour and now they would shut by 11.30pm as against 10.30pm.
"While extension in bar timings is a challenge from the policing point of view, it is a government policy.
"We will try and ensure that things run smoothly after the extension of timings," said DIG, Bhopal D Sriniwas Verma.
The proliferation of bars and pubs in Bhopal has also led to a spurt in incidents of brawls in some places in the last few months.
However, there is no change in the opening timings which stands at 11am.