MG Road residents urge Haryana CM to revoke liquor permits for pubs, bars
Gurugram: Residents of Mehrauli-Gurgaon (MG) Road on Saturday wrote a letter to Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, seeking his intervention in revoking liquor licences for pubs, bars and liquor vends on a stretch popularly known as the ‘Mall Mile’.
Resident welfare association (RWA) of eight colonies along MG Road are likely to meet the chief minister on Sunday to apprise him of the alleged illegal activities being carried out inside the malls in the area, said officials.
Rajeev Sinha, president of Essel Towers’ RWA, said, “We have been struggling to make the Mall Mile a safer place for the local residents to visit, and if more licences are given to pubs, bars and liquor vends to run their businesses there, it will become more difficult to control the hooligans.”
According to the RWA representatives, the situation has not changed in the area since 2018 and might get even worse if such establishments along the stretch increase with the new excise policy in effect. As part of Haryana’s new excise policy announced on May 6, the prices of imported foreign liquor (IFL) in Gurugram are likely to decrease from June as the excise duty and value-added tax (VAT) on the sale of liquor have been reduced.
The new rules, which will come into effect from June 12, aim to counter the national capital’s excise policy which was released in November 2021, under which bars and restaurants serving liquor can remain open till 3am, by allowing bars in Gurugram to stay open till 8am as long as their owners pay the excise department an annual additional fee of ₹20 lakh. The timings for liquor vends remain unchanged (from 8am to 12am), excise officials said, adding that the policy will also allow more liquor vends in a single zone, and drinking places adjacent to liquor vends, which were called “ahatas”, have been renamed as “taverns”.
Back in 2018, the residents of MG Road held a candle light vigil to show solidarity with the police and administration that was cracking down on alleged prostitution and illegal solicitation on the stretch. The RWA had also expressed concerns over spurt in illegal activities around Mall Mile. There are several malls and nearly 50 pubs and bars at MG Road, and incidents of violence, drunken brawls, sexual harassment, rape and abduction have taken place the area in the past. That is why, residents of the area have been complaining about the “unsafe situations” along the stretch.
Umesh Gupta, a resident of DLF Phase 2, said “it is sad that the residents have to launch candle light vigils and protests to stop illegal activities from taking place along the stretch. “I hope that the chief minister will intervene once again, and give us a permanent solution to the restoration of MG Road to its previous glory,” Gupta said.
Residents also alleged that the state government has only been concerned about the revenue collected, and not about the residents’ safety. Gaurav Wahi, another resident of DLF Phase 2, said that “several issues persist along the Mall Mile, and unauthorised street vendors have made the situation even worse”. “Apart from night nuisance, it has become difficult for us to drive or walk on service lanes of the stretch. Despite being declared as a no vending zone, the administration has not done much to maintain its status. We demand immediate action on this,” Wahi said.
RWA members also said that they want “the excise officials to revoke licences for pubs at malls on MG Road, and junk those at least for the next five years”. Also, they want the number of liquor vends to be reduced to only one on either side of MG Road, as that is “enough to cater to the needs of the residents”.
Excise officials, meanwhile, said that the number of pubs, bars and liquor vends to come up or run in the areas will be clear this June. “We cannot cancel anyone’s licence, the head office takes a call on all the applications. We grant a business operator a licence based on documentation and after a visit to the outlet concerned, if found deemed fit,” said VK Beniwal, deputy commissioner of excise and taxation, Gurugram (east).
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