Serving liquor in open spaces in Gurgaon will become a reality once again from April 1 onwards. The excise department has asked pub and bar owners to apply for licences to serve liquor in open areas.
The decision will benefit about 100 pubs and bars, including 34 in Cyber Hub.
The pubs and bars will have to shell out 10% of their licence fee for an additional point and can obtain two extra points. The licence fee has been increased to Rs 15 lakh in the new policy announced on Sunday.
Serving liquor in the open was barred across the state in April last year after the department received complaints that there was no clarity about the facility in the Haryana Excise Act. Between June and December last year, the department issued challans to 110 bars in the city for violating the ban.
On December 23, an order from the office of excise and taxation commissioner, Panchkula, clarified the position and removed the ban on serving liquor in the open. The order was not released due to a Supreme Court guideline to bar sale of liquor within a 500-metre area from state and national highways.
- The space should not be open to passersby and it should be surrounded by wall with a provision for regulated entry/exit
- The open space should not have a direct access/opening to the main road
- If the open space happens to be a rooftop/terrace/ balcony, it should be surrounded by a wall/strong immovable fencing of a minimum height of six feet
- The act of drinking in the open, by the person sitting therein, should not be visible to passerby. In addition, if the open space is visible from other nearby highrises, additional measures should be taken to obstruct the view
- The licensee shall ensure that the person using the open space does not indulge in any activity such as throwing articles outside
- No music or performance is allowed in the open space and no one aged below 25 years shall be given entry.
The order was delivered by the Gurgaon excise office on Friday, after which pub and bar owners started furnishing documentation including affidavits, floor plans with open space information, and additional point licence fee. Some people applied and the department sent 16 applications to the head office on Monday for approval, said an excise official.
The department has put 10 conditions that have to be met in order to get approval for serving liquor in the open. The conditions pertain to location, visibility and security aspects of the serving area. The decision will benefit around 100 restaurants, pubs and bars in areas including Cyber Hub, Sector 29, Sohna Road, and other micro-markets in Gurgaon.
“Even if the open-air sales were 15-20% of their total revenues, I can say about Rs 40 to 50 crore worth of potential revenue was lost in a year. The licence fee for the additional point, input and output VAT and other levies will easily contribute Rs 15 crore additional revenues to the state exchequer. Another critical part is additional direct and indirect employment as more staff gets employed to cater for additional seating and, there is another ancillary industry benefit which anyway is connected to revenues of the hospitality industry,” said Rahul Singh, Haryana chapter head, National Restaurant Association of India.
Ashwani Choudhary, managing director, Soi 7 hospitality, said, “This was required as people visiting pubs/bars demanded drinks in the open and were more comfortable sitting outside. This move will bring back that footfall.”
The excise policy has clarified that restaurants and hotels serving liquor are not covered under the court ruling on the 500-metre criterion.