Mumbai: The Maharashtra Cabinet on Wednesday approved its 'Mumbai 24 hours' policy allowing malls, multiplexes and shops to remain open round-the-clock in the city from January 27.
Noting that London's 'night economy' was five billion pounds, Maharashtra Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray said after the Cabinet meeting that the government's decision could help generate more revenue and jobs, in addition to the existing five lakh people working in the service sector.
He also said keeping shops, malls and eateries open in the night was not mandatory.
"Only those who feel they can do good business can keep their establishments open throughout the night," he said.
In the first phase, shops, eateries and theatres in malls and mill compounds situated in non-residential areas will be allowed to remain open.
"In the Bandra-Kurla Complex and Nariman Point near NCPA, a lane will be opened for food trucks. Food inspectors will keep a watch on them. If rules on solid waste management, decibel limits and law and order are violated, there is provision of lifetime ban," the Shiv Sena leader said.
He said the police force will not be under stress because after 1.30am, their job till now was to check if shops and establishments were shut down.
"But, now they will be able to focus on law and order only," said the minister, who is son of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
He also said that while taking the decision, Excise rules have not been touched and pubs and bars will close as usual at 1.30am.
"People can eat food, shop and watch movies even during the night," he said.
He said Mumbai is a "24x7 functional city". "There are people who work in night shifts. There are tourists, too, in transit. Where do they go if they are hungry after 10 pm?" he asked.
Thackeray also said there are provisions for security and CCTVs in malls and mill compounds and they have all the licenses. If these establishments need additional police security, they will have to pay for it, he added.
Asked about criticism from the BJP over this move, the minister said the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government was working to fulfil people's aspirations.
"The BJP is against the youth, seeing the way they are handling students," he said, referring to the recent violence in Delhi's JNU and Jamia Millia Islamia.
(With inputs from agencies)