Nearly two months after the district administration banned hookah bars in Gurgaon, they are back in business.
District magistrate PC Meena had invoked Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code to impose the ban on November 29 last year.
The order was passed following reports that hookah bars were serving tobacco molasses containing nicotine which is injurious to health of people, especially college students who flock to such eateries.
On Monday, hookah bars started offering services to its customers once again. Café Mocha even flashed text messages to its regular clients inviting them to their outlet in DLF City. Restaurant owners claimed the statutory period of two months banning the activity was over and since the administration had not issued any fresh notice, they were free to put back hookahs on the menu card.
The district administration, on the other hand, has termed the activity as “illegal” and said it will issue fresh orders soon.
Gurgaon has about 50 such bars offering hookahs. The Mocha outlet in DLF City, the first to introduce hookah smoking five years ago in Gurgaon, had put up signboards ‘Hookahs are no more available here’ two months ago after the government’s crackdown.
“We had removed hookahs from our premises after the administration issued a directive to ban the same. We have started again as Section 144 invoked two months back is no more in force nor has the administration issued any fresh notice. The statutory 60-day period got over on January 27,” said Ankit Bahadur, director, Mocha, Gurgaon.
Other hookah bars owners also claimed that they had started offering herbal hookahs that did not contain harmful chemicals like tar and nicotine.
“We have got the content tested at government-run laboratories and nothing objectionable has been found in it. Instead of banning it, the government should provide safer and healthier varieties,” said a bar owner.
Deputy commissioner PC Meena, meanwhile, reiterated that hookah smoking in bars was an illegal activity. “I will get Section 144 invoked again. Once the bars are banned from selling it, they cannot continue without the written permission of the state government,” he added.