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Food and beverages industry seeks single-window clearance for licence

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Citing increasing difficulty in doing business in the city, the Food and Beverages (F&B) industry in Bengaluru has sought a single window for getting licences to operate.

Members of the National Restaurant Association of India’s (NRAI) Bengaluru chapter said the industry has been at the “receiving end” of late, some of them due to the “very literal reading of the rules”.

The latest rule that has caused unrest is the Licensing and Controlling of Places of Public Entertainment (Bangalore City) Order 2005, which the Supreme Court upheld in January this year.

To get the licence, establishments have to submit an array of documents, and the bone of contention has been that of having an Occupancy Certificate (OC), which many of them have failed to produce.

“The nature of the city has changed from ‘pub city’ to ‘not pub city’ and back to ‘pub city’ with a vengeance. But the requirement of documents for all practical purposes has become impossible. A lot of businesses don’t have OCs. Why is only one type of business being singled out?” asked Manu Chandra, Bengaluru chapter head of the NRAI, adding that the ease of doing business in the city was “practically non-existent” and that they were “saddled with more and more licences.”

NRAI members said they recently had discussions with different government agencies and Deputy Chief Minister and Bengaluru Development Minister G. Parameshwara, wherein they had made a few recommendations, including the need to set up a single window for the industry to obtain licences.

‘Some bad apples’

With Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) in many areas, primarily in Indiranagar, upping the ante against illegal commercial establishments in residential areas, the NRAI maintained that there were a “few bad apples” that should be reigned in by the agencies concerned. But representatives added the entire industry cannot be targetted because of the establishments that were not adhering to regulations.

“What is aggravating the issue is a segment in a certain locality who have been vocal and vicious just so they can rile the government. They have made it impossible to operate. You cannot will an entire business away. Where will the millennial population go for entertainment? There is a difference between dance bars and pubs where people are dancing at their own will. The line has completely been blurred over the last few weeks,” said Mr. Chandra.

“We were categorical with the government that action should be taken against those establishments that are functioning in non-commercial areas. We are not being unreasonable,” he added.

Ban on liquor sale

Before the implementation of the 2005 order, the ban on liquor sale within 500 m of highways had hit the industry hard, said Amit Roy, another NRAI member. “Since then, the number of establishments that have shut down have reached double figures. The cost of doing business is also going up. Some have shut down a year after they opened. What is the chance of recovery?” he asked.

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