The debate over allowing restaurants, bars and pubs in Mumbai to stay open 24x7 took a new turn on Wednesday. The BJP demanded the same rule be applied to vendors and roadside eateries so that even the poor can have a snack anytime they want.
BJP’s ally Shiv Sena has backed the concept of keeping restaurants, bars and pubs in the city open 24x7, with Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray leading the campaign.
Ashish Shelar, BJP’s Mumbai unit chief, said keeping the city open 24x7 should not be an elite concept and all sections of the society should be thought about. “Even the common man, who can’t afford to visit restaurants and pubs, should benefit from this move,” said Shelar. “We need to give permissions to small eateries and roadside vendors to stay open so that the common man can have their snack any time they want.” He said that vada pav and pav bhaaji stalls should be the ones encouraged to stay open as they represent the culture of the city.
Thackeray had mooted the idea in 2013 and has been holding a series of meetings with various stakeholders.
The BJP-led state government has not initiated any process to amend the relevant laws although chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has assured Thackeray he would take steps in this regard.
Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria recently gave his nod to the proposal, with a rider that the establishments that are allowed to stay open should not be located in residential areas.
Critics, however, said that including the unorganised sector in the plan would make things difficult and derail the scheme.
The Samajwadi Party cautioned that blanket permissions would be counter-productive. “Do we have adequate police force to stop anti-social elements from creating nuisance at roadside stalls?” asked Abdul Qadir Chaudhry, spokesperson of the party.
The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRWAI) also said unorganised sector should not be encouraged in the scheme of things. “It is detrimental for the society to encourage unorganised sector and such issues will only derail the entire scheme,” said Kamlesh Barot, former president of the HRWAI