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Redefining Highways in Slow Lane, Bengaluru Pubs Stare at Shutdown

Lounge bars, pubs and restaurants in the central business district of Bengaluru will stop serving liquor after Friday, forcing many of them to bring down their shutters.

Nagarjun Dwarakanath, Deepa Balakrishnan

Updated:June 29, 2017, 4:56 PM IST
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Redefining Highways in Slow Lane, Bengaluru Pubs Stare at Shutdown
Many bars in Bengaluru's central business district are likely to shut down due to the SC order. (Photo: Reuters)
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Bengaluru: Lounge bars, pubs and restaurants in the central business district of Bengaluru will stop serving liquor after Friday, forcing many of them to bring down their shutters.

The excise licences of 741 pubs and bars will end by June 30, and the excise department has issued notices to shut operations to around 340 outlets that fall within the 500-metre radius of National Highways after the Supreme Court order.

Karnataka, like many other states, had de-notified state highways that pass through urban areas, but has no powers to change the status of National Highways.

Over the past two weeks, the State government has made several attempts to get the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to de-notify these roads. Officials of the Public Works Department had even met with officials at the Centre, but all this has been for naught.

“There is no final solution. We're still pursuing with the Government of India for the de-notification of the areas coming under the urban authority and municipal authority. Till now, there is no movement of the file,” said Karnataka’s law minister, T B Jayachandra.

Many of the city's most popular hangout places such as Pecos and Church Street Social, as well as five-star hotels like Le Meridien will not be allowed to serve liquor.

The prominent areas that house some of these places are Koramangala, Indranagar, MG Road, Church Street, Brigade Road, Yeshwanthpur, Banashankari, Peenya and Gandhinagar.

The law minister said that unless the Centre takes a decision, they can’t do anything. “They’ve neither registered nor initiated any dialogue. It is static. There is no movement at all,” he added.

Pointing out that this is likely to be a pan-India problem, Jayachandra told News18 that the government may look to approaching the Supreme Court for some relief, if nothing comes from the Central government.

But as the government is running against time, with barely a day for the excise year to end, the pubs will have to shut shop at least temporarily, until they get relief.

“There is no way to temporarily extend the licence by a couple of months either,” he said, adding, “From tomorrow onwards, the situation will become difficult. We can't do anything.”

Pub owners see this as a miscommunication between different government agencies. Some of them realised they fall foul if the Supreme Court order only recently, when they received notices that their streets were classified as National Highways.

“We are in this business for 30 years. It is like a tsunami for us. Suddenly, somebody telling you to close the pub in one week. There are lot of people who are working, many regular customers, who have an attachment to Pecos,” says N Srinivasa Gowad, Pecos, General Manager.
| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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