For the first time since November 2013 when CyberHub emerged as a popular haunt for pub-hoppers and party-goers in Gurgaon, it was a dull and gloomy Saturday, from removed from weekend revelry that once defined this place.
The city’s designated fun zone that once drew over 45,000 people during weekends, cut a sorry figure on Saturday as there was a noticeable slump in footfall and even the smattering of people who visited CyberHub could be heard enquiring if drinks were available.
The visitors were even confused on whether or to what extent the Supreme Court order, banning the sale of liquor within 500 metres of national and state highways, was being enforced.
“We were not aware that the liquor ban is in force. We thought drinks were being served as usual and came to enjoy some fresh beer. However, we saw excise officials taking custody of the liquor stock,” Gaurav Singh, a city businessman, said.
The district administration on Saturday formed two teams comprising officials of the excise department, police, PWD, NHAI, municipal corporation, and urban local bodies. The officials got cracking on Saturday itself, as they visited the popular watering holes at CyberHub, Sector 29 and Sohna Road and asked the staff to stop serving liquor till further orders. They also took note of the inventory and seized the liquor in stock. The stock is now in the custody of the excise department.
The licenses of 143 pubs and bars, including 34 in DLF CyberHub, will not be renewed by the excise department and the move has left the employees fretting for their livelihood.
“The blanket ban on the sale of liquor has taken a toll on hotel and pub business in the area and many employees working at these places are likely to lose their jobs soon,” said the manager of a prominent pub in CyberHub, who asked not to be named.
“We came to have a good time at CyberHub, but were pleasantly surprised at how easily we got parking space. The usual buzz about this place was missing as customers and visitors were few and far between. The reality hit us as we ordered food and drinks. We were shocked at being informed about the liquor ban. We left the place as there can be no party without drinks,” Juhi Sharma, a resident of DLF City, Phase 1, said.
The pub and restaurant owners are still waiting for more clarity on the measurement of the distance from the highway and are mulling relocation in a bid to ensure compliance with the Supreme Court directive.
Pub and bar owners pegged the estimated loss of revenue in the wake of the Supreme Court order at around ₹100 crore. “Hundreds of crores have been invested in these properties. The ban will hit the (liquor) industry hard. It will not only result in a significant reduction in government revenue, but also render thousands jobless,” a bar manager said.
“All license holders, who are presumed to be in the red zone, had their stock seized and have been told to stop liquor sale till further notice. The clearer picture will emerge only after the measurement exercise is conducted by the city authorities. For now, it’s a dry and gloomy spell for hard working professionals who come to unwind at these hotels and restaurants after work. The dipping footfall in various catchments across Gurgaon testifies to the effect of the liquor ban. Apart from the disappointment for the patrons, it will also result in a big loss of revenue for the state exchequer,” Rahul Singh, head of the Haryana chapter of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), said.