With repeated ban imposed under Section 144 of CrPC, the Indore district administration is clear it will not allow serving of hookah in public places, but 180 km away in Bhopal, hookah trade is gurgling.
Over the last five years, Bhopal has emerged as a ‘hookah haven’, taking over the tag from Indore. Hookah parlours are mushrooming across the city in contrast to Indore, where there is a ban on hookah lounges.
Hookah lounges were banned in 2011 in Indore
In 2011, hookah lounges were banned following reports by the chief medical health officer that lounge owners were serving drugs and liquor under the guise of coffee shops and hookah parlours, said Indore additional district magistrate Deepak Singh.
The district authorities have been carrying out checks and raids to ensure that the ban on hookah smoking in public places continues, he said.
Hookah smoking in public places is banned under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act- 2003.
The Supreme Court in its rulings has clearly stated that “Smoking can be permitted within the ambit of rule-4 of 2008 rules in designated smoking areas”. This rule prohibits of smoking in public places.
The district authorities in Indore say hookah cannot be served at non-smoking areas in restaurants, pubs, lounges, but people can sit smoke hookahs in designated smoking zones.
Number of hookah lounges has risen in Bhopal
Smoking hookah in Bhopal is easy as the number of hookah lounges has risen in the last five years, said Karan Singh, a businessman from Bhopal.
“The situation is very different in Bhopal when you compare it with Indore. Besides, hookahs are cheaper in Bhopal as there is a stiff competition,” he said.
Once youngsters from Bhopal used go to Indore to smoke hookah but the situation has completely changed now, he added.
Bhopal additional district magistrate BS Jamod disagreed, saying that they raid the hookah joints as and when they receive information.
“We used to clamp Section 144 of CrPC in public places in the city where was hookah was smoked but the high court granted stay order,” he said.
Additional district magistrate Deepak Singh said that hookah lounges are filled with youngsters, especially minors, who are too immature to understand the repercussions of smoking.
Raid on hookah lounge in Indore
In a joint operation, late on Tuesday night, the Indore district administration, food and drugs department and excise department raided a restaurant and seized a large number of hookahs and a large quantity tobacco flavours. Authorities sealed the restaurant, Golden Grill after they found it deserted.
“We received reports in the past that hookah was being served at the restaurant and we were on the lookout to raid it,” said Indore sub divisional magistrate Anil Banwariya.