Soon, you can party till 4am in Mumbai | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Soon, you can party till 4am in Mumbai

BJP-led government plans to bring back ‘the nightlife plan’ — creating entertainment zones in non-residential zones and formulating a policy for food trucks — on a pilot basis

mumbai Updated: Sep 20, 2017 17:02 IST
Faisal Malik
The project will tested for six months and that too only two days in a week — Friday and Saturday.
The project will tested for six months and that too only two days in a week — Friday and Saturday.

You will soon have more options to eat out and enjoy a nightlife. The BJP-led state government has decided to extend its support to the hotel industry by bringing back ‘the nightlife plan’ on a pilot basis — this includes creating entertainment zones and formulating a policy for food trucks. The cherry on top is that warring allies BJP and Shiv Sena seem to have reached an understanding over allowing rooftop restaurants in the city.

This means the proposed policy for rooftop restaurants, pending with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for the past two years, could get a nod soon. This will be followed by a single-window system to issue licences to the restaurants.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, in a meeting held on Monday, directed officials to look into the possibilities of allowing rooftops restaurants in the city. The directives have been issued to the BMC and the state excise department, which will grant the restaurant and liquor licences.

The Sena has been pushing for a nightlife in non-residential areas of the city, which the BJP has opposed so far. But Fadnavis has now asked officials to go ahead with the plan on a pilot basis, limited to only three designated areas in the city. These areas will be decided by city authorities.

The police was against the proposal over security concerns. However, the chief minister directed to designate three non-residential areas as nightlife zones where pubs, bars and eateries can remain open until 4am. The project will tested for six months and that too only two days in a week — Friday and Saturday. “Those who want to enjoy can come and enjoy the night without disturbing others,” said a senior official, on condition of anonymity.

The same would be replicated in other parts of the city if successful, he said.

The issues were discussed in a meeting with delegation of National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI).

Two years after the BJP opposed Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray’s pet project — rooftop restaurants — the two warring allies are now working to reach an amicable ground and approving the policy in the civic body. For more than four years, the Sena has been continuously trying to get the policy approved, But the BJP has been rejecting it calling because it said the plan was ‘against the culture’.

So why did the BJP change its stance? The BJP-led state government’s allowed shops to be open 24x7 in the city last month. While party leaders have kept quiet on the issue, sources in the civic body said both the parties are trying to solve the rift and approve the policy together. “While the Sena wants to get Aaditya Thackeray’s project approved and shine, the BJP wants its suggestions and amendments like restrictions around residential areas to be included in the policy.” The rooftop restaurant plan will most likely be tabled in the next general body meeting scheduled for this Friday. In November 2012, the BMC had begun framing a policy to give official licences to rooftop restaurant owners and recover a licence fee for the same.

A senior official from excise department said they have no problem in issuing liquor licences to rooftop restaurants if they are have restaurant licences. “It is up to the BMC to come with a specific policy on the issue,” the official said requesting anonymity.

“We have demanded licences for rooftop hotels, which we are unable to get in the absence of a policy. The chief minister was very positive on our demands and directed the officials to come with a way out. We are now hoping that soon we will start getting necessary licenses for rooftop hotels,” said Riyaaz Amlani, president NRAI.

Meanwhile, Fadnavis has directed the officials to formulate a special policy to encourage food trucks in Mumbai. It means those who want to start the business in the city will start getting permissions once a legal framework comes in place. “We are expecting bringing the policy by November month,” said a senior official from urban development department.

CM’s directives for policy on food trucks come two months after Mumbai’s first food truck park, which was launched in July in Bandra, was shut down in the same month after the BMC refused parking and other permissions.

Unlike cities like Bengaluru and Delhi, where food trucks can operate under a set of licences from local authorities, Mumbai has no legal framework to get the food truck business rolling. Right from dealing with red tapeism to acquiring various licences from the BMC and Food & Drugs Administration (FDA), food truck owners find it difficult to navigate the system.

The delegation of NRAI has also demanded reducing number of permissions for the hotel industry. The chief minister has assured us that the one-window system to issuing licenses for hotels and restaurants will start soon, Amlani said. “In Mumbai, the hotel owners have to take in all 32 permissions and licenses while in foreign countries the number is just five. The chief minister has assured reducing the number of licenses significantly,” Amlani told HT.

Read more:
HT View: Let the party begin