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Monday Musings: Pubs in residential areas the new normal for Pune?

Government must enforce stiff norms to prevent pubs from causing nuisance to residential neighbourhoods in the vicinity.

pune Updated: Apr 09, 2018 16:24 IST
Abhay Vaidya
Abhay Vaidya
Hindustan Times, Pune
pune,maharashtra,monday musings
Agent Jack's pub in Baner.(Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)

Bars and pubs in and around residential areas have become the new normal for a city like Pune.

A number of restaurants with permit rooms have existed in close proximity to residential areas in the past without complaints from residents. What is new is the increasing presence of bars and pubs in the relatively newly emerging, upmarket suburbs, like Baner and Vimannagar.

Bars and pubs places where people go to drink and have a good time with friends. They often have loud music and more often than not, a dance floor, because after a few drinks, people want to loosen up on the dance floor. Nothing wrong with any of this.

The problem arises when these establishments become the cause of nuisance for peaceful, residential neighbourhoods as is being witnessed in the Pallod Farms Phase-1 area of Baner.

As reported extensively by Hindustan Times, Baner residents have been waging a fierce crusade against the nuisance caused by a cluster of pubs situated at Deron Heights building and across the road. The residents have had to frequently complain to the police, district collector, excise department and the municipal corporation about the congestion in the narrow lanes caused by people visiting these bars, and their vehicles.

They were alarmed when a drug addict was found smoking outside the gates of one of the housing societies and when the dead body of a Pub employee was found in a ditch close-by. The loud music, cheering and hooting from rooftop bars, such as Teddy Boy and Agent Jack’s was a recurring nuisance, especially on occasions, such as Valentine’s Day and other such occasions when crowds of young people throng the bars.

The situation was all the more alarming about 18 months ago when as many as five pubs were located in Deron Heights building itself. When the residents complained to Pune district collector Saurabh Rao about this, he too was aghast. It was amidst their crusade that a fire tragedy had happened at ‘1Above pub’ in the Kamala Mills compound, Mumbai, where a 28-year-old had been killed while celebrating her birthday.

What if a similar fire tragedy occurred in Pune in one of the pubs in Deron Heights, trapping pub patrons and leading to death and injuries. Not surprisingly, Rao ordered the closure of these establishments.

His decision was, however, overturned by the State Excise Commissioner, Mumbai, after a hearing. The excise commissioner restored the FL-3 (liquor permits) on the grounds that the bars had valid permits; they were located in a commercial complex and that strict segregation of commercial and residential areas does not exist in Indian cities.

Thankfully, however, the concentration of five pubs in a single building ended, with one of them closing shop and another moving out, across the road.

Baner Road residents thus scored an important, but partial victory. They now want the noise pollution from the two rooftop bars to be controlled. For this, they need to report the violations to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) officials in the city, till their problem is resolved.

Since 1991, India has adopted the path of globalization and economic liberalisation which means that a consumerist, market-driven culture is going to be dominant. The sprouting of pubs and bars in up-market, IT-driven areas like Baner and Vimannagar is inevitable.

Given this reality, the city authorities and the government needs to introduce and enforce stringent norms to prevent pubs, bars and other entertainment destinations from becoming a nuisance to residential neighbourhoods in the vicinity.

The Baner residents’ crusade is therefore important for the rest of Pune and deserves our fullest support.

abhay.vaidya@htlive.com

First Published: Apr 09, 2018 16:23 IST