A day after the Haryana excise department asked all pubs and bars in the city, except those in 4 and 5-star hotels, to down shutters by midnight, owners are in a tizzy.
While the department cited frequent drunken brawls as the reason for discontinuing the two-hour extension provision till 2am, owners blamed the ahatas (roadside drinking joints) attached to liquor vends and unauthorised eateries for creating nuisance as they operate without any closure deadline.
The owners also accused the Haryana government of promoting liquor consumption in the state by introducing lucrative offers and opportunities for tipplers in its “liberal” excise policy.
Haryana has only three dry days as against 21 in Delhi. Ironically, liquor is available illegally even on these days.
“Liquor vends open on Holi and Diwali too when chances of drunken people getting into brawls are more,” said a pub owner on the condition of anonymity.
The Haryana excise policy also has provisions for opening liquor shops in market areas near residential colonies such as DLF Central Arcade, Qutub Plaza, Palam
Vihar Byopar Kendra, Sushant Lok Byopar Kendra and others.
A bar owner who has an outlet in a mall on MG Road said, “The excise policy promotes liquor shops in malls. Home delivery of liquor, which is not allowed under the policy, is openly being offered.”
Vikram Rana, who runs a micro brewery, said the excise department had shut its eyes to the increasing number of ahatas. “Since these ahatas are economical, a large number of people, including anti-social elements, congregate here and create nuisance at night and the government blames bars and beer breweries for it.”