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OK. But not enough

delhi Updated: Feb 04, 2010 00:35 IST
Manoj Sharma
Manoj Sharma
Hindustan Times
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In between belting out classic rock numbers at Café Morrison, a pub in South Extension, DJ Siddharth Talwar makes little announcements for his guests, “Don’t drink and drive, there’s someone at home waiting for you”.

“I do it as a continuous reminder to my guests that they should not drive back home in a drunken state,” said Talwar, who also owns the café.

The café walls display posters of Jim Morrison, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones alongside those spreading awareness about the hazards of drink driving.

Like Café Morrison, pubs and bars across the city are spreading awareness against drink driving. Some of the posters in these cafes read: ‘Do not drive while you are drunk’; ‘Booze It & lose it’, ‘If you find this hard to read, book a cab’, etc.

“We have poster messages against drink driving everywhere, including the bathrooms. We also display the number of cab companies,” said Sanjay Jaiswal, general manager of Urban Pind, another high-end pub in Greater Kailash-I.

Many pubs have started working with CADD (Campaign Against Drunken Driving), an NGO, to spread awareness.

“In the past couple of years, a lot of pubs and bars have been taking measures against drink driving,” said CADD founder Prince Singhal.

Taxis companies are also approaching these pubs with the message: “You drink, I drive.” And they are getting an increasing number of customers from pubs.

On New Year’s Eve Mega Cab, a Radio Taxi company, was fully booked. “We are fully booked at weekends, too, when a large part of our customers visit pubs,” said Vinod Mishra, general manager of Mega Cabs.

Pub owners said they are also witnessing a major change in customers’ attitude. “Many guests come in groups with an understanding that one of them will not drink and drive the rest home safely,” Jaiswal said.

But more needed

While the awareness has increased, the city still has a long way to go in curbing illegal consumption of liquor.

“The culture of ‘car-o-bar’ (drinking in the car) and drinking outside liquor vends is yet to be fully curbed. The government should be realistic and lower the drinking age from 25 to 21 years. It would stop people from drinking illegally,” Singhal said.

Officials from the Excise department also admitted that laws were not enough to curb illegal drinking or encourage responsible drinking.

They said though the new excise policy is stringent, its implementation would be key.

“No matter what the law, it is social mores that dictate one’s behaviour,” said an official.

“Lowering the drinking age isn’t a solution. Look at UK. It’s a social problem there. The government is running campaigns to encourage responsible drinking.” (With inputs from Anuradha Mukherjee)