After waiting for more than a year, the Delhi government's Excise Department has finally notified the decision of the Cabinet to allow one restaurant in all the five-star hotels to serve liquor round the clock.
The decision to allow 24-hour bars in five-star hotels was taken following repeated representation from the hotels for round the clock functioning of a bar in one of their restaurants.
Excise and Finance Minister AK Walia said, "the government has taken the decision keeping in view the importance of Delhi as an international tourist and business destination".
What is surprising is the time taken to implement the Cabinet decision of November 2005. At that time, it was decided that the permission would be granted but notification took over a year. "We had worked out all the details last year itself, but legally, this can be implemented only after the notification," said a senior official.
"Many of the tourists and business travellers arrive or depart from their hotels at odd hours and need the services of a bar," said the Cabinet note on the issue. At present, the five star hotels have at least one restaurant open round the clock but these are not permitted to serve alcohol beyond the stipulated time frame.
Serving of alcohol in these restaurants would not be limited only to those who are staying in the hotel. This would be served even to the guests who go to these restaurants and demand it.
The government, however, would not allow the night clubs or the discos in these hotels to serve alcohol round the clock as these are also visited by outside guests and in-house patrons. At present, only the restaurants at the arrival and departure lounge of the international airport are permitted to serve alcohol round the clock.
The permission, however, comes with a hefty license fee. They will have to pay 100 per cent additional fee for the year - over and above the fee which they pay at present.
Delhi has 24 hotels with five-star and above categories. The Excise Department expects that this proposal would earn them an extra Rs 1 crore per annum as revenue even if only half of these hotels go for the license.