While party animals, night owls and hoteliers have cheered the Mumbai police’s decision to allow restaurants and bars to remain open all night, citizen’s group are alarmed.
The demand to let restaurants run all night in the city that never sleeps has been frequent. Police commissioner Rakesh Maria last month allowed some hotels and pubs in the city to extend hours of operation. The final decision on the issue will be taken by the state government.
Activists, however, claim allowing unrestricted timings in areas like Linking Road and Colaba Causeway, which have numerous eateries, can cause inconvenience to locals, with traffic movement and noise going on till late.
The city police, though, say they have taken these concerns into account. Maria told HT he has given the go-ahead to extend hours only to hotels not located in residential areas.
“The permission should be for commercial areas like Bandra Kurla Complex ( BKC). For Linking road, Colaba Causeway, etc., a feasibility study should be conducted to see if parking facilities are adequate. Permissions should not be given to pubs and restaurants operating in residential buildings,” said Aftab Siddique, a social activist who has been campaigning against illegal bars and pubs in the Bandra-Khar belt.
Police officers said any misuse of the allowance will attract punishment. “In case of violations, hotels will be penalised according to the law,” said a senior officer of the Mumbai police.
The hotel industry has welcomed the decision. According to Bharat Malkani, President, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India, this move will boost tourism. “This will allow Mumbaiites to enjoy night life. This is also a bold message to foreigners visiting the city and will go a long way in encouraging tourism,” said Malkani.
At present, all such establishments are allowed to operate till 1.30am. For years, there has been a demand for extended the timings, on the grounds that a sizeable population in the city works late hours, and the strict deadline hurts the hospitality sector. The police department, however, was reluctant to extend the timings, citing a shortage of manpower to adequately monitor the city.