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‘A vibrant nightlife will contribute to the livability and lovability of Mumbai



Mumbai is said to be the city that never sleeps. That tag might ring true, only if the proposal to keep restaurants and bars open 24X7, goes through. The Yuva Sena chief, Aaditya Thackeray, has revisited his five-year-old proposal to allow city restaurants and pubs stay open 24 hours. Aaditya stresses on the point that it’s a matter of citizens’ rights and they need to be ‘given time to unwind after work’. However, this is with regard to only legal activities in non-residential areas.
As per a report, he has written to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on the matter. While the CM’s office has not mentioned anything about it yet, Mumbaikars, are keeping fingers crossed for this proposal to see the light of day. Restaurant owners and Mumbaikars spoke to BT about the kind of difference a move like this would make to their lifestyle and to the culture of the city….

‘It is the nightlife that gives a city its pace. It’s where culture thrives and where you meet people’

Riyaaz Amlani, President of the National Restaurant Association of India, is optimistic about the 24X7 proposal seeing concretisation. “It is something we have been fighting for, since the last six years. We strongly believe that by having a vibrant Mumbai, it will mean more than having the liberty to party. It will contribute tremendously to the livability and lovability of the city. In terms of attracting tourists, this will have an impact, too. Mumbai is one of the biggest cities in the world, but we see only see 5 lakh tourists per year, versus say a Bangkok, that sees 15 million. If you take a look at the most visited cities, like Paris, New York, London or Vegas, it’s not the historical monuments that drive tourism in a city, but the nightlife, as that is what gives a city its pace. It’s where culture thrives and where you meet people. But take a look at our lifestyle, we have been in a state of partial curfew. What is it that is legal in the day that becomes illegal in the night? Drinking and driving can be monitored, can’t it?

‘It will be a boon if the government creates zones which have 24/7 restaurants, as it is important to not disturb residents’
Sumit Gambhir of a gastropub at Colaba, says, “Mumbai, being the financial capital, when tourists come into the city, they are left struggling for food options, as all they have during early hours of the morning are five-star hotels or street food stalls. People must have 24-hour restaurant options in Mumbai, and asking for this is not unfair, it is a necessity. If people want to keep their premises open, they should be allowed to. From the employment point of view, it will mean job opportunities. So, if this proposal goes through, it will be a positive change.”

Restaurateur Amit Jambotkar affirms the view and suggests having specific zones to take the plan ahead. “Mumbai is an international city and we need a nightlife to match that. Providing food 24/7 is like providing one of the essential services. I think it will be a boon if the government creates zones which have 24/7 restaurants, as it is of prime importance not to disturb residents,” he says.

Call for: Night Mayors
Riyaaz also advocates the idea of having night mayors for Mumbai. “Today, cities across the world have woken up to night-time economy and have created night mayors. London has a night mayor, Berlin has one, so does New York. Their basic job is to increase night time economy. This is not just about going out, partying and drinking. Today, if you go to Worli Seaface, you will see thousands of people just hanging out in the open space as they want to belong to the city. So, having a nightlife is also the ability to take a walk on Marine Drive at 3 am. Today, you are chased away. If I want to go shopping at night, I should be able to. Let’s have our own night mayors.”

‘We are a city that works hard and we should have an opportunity to party hard, especially on special occasions’


For Mumbaikars who are used to used to working round-the-clock, this might just be just the respite that they need. Says Gauri Nayar, communications professional, “I think it’s a great idea for the city to remain open all night on New Year’s Eve. We are a city that works so hard and we should therefore, have an opportunity to party hard, especially on special occasions. If residents are offered an option to celebrate all night, while feeling safe and secure, I believe they would welcome it.”

Adds Sameer Malkani of the Food Bloggers Association of India, “This will be a good move, if it happens in a controlled way. You need to also consider costs versus footfalls. As a Mumbaikar, I think it would be the one of best things to happen. It’s nice to know there’s always something buzzing around. We work late hours and the real leisure happens only post midnight, so this would be apt for us.”

‘We really owe it to our cities and ourselves to get out of this state of partial curfew. And where else, but Mumbai?’
While the proposal to allow establishments to operate through the night might need its safety nets and rules, restaurateur Amrish Arora hopes for a start. “I think 24 hours for a restaurant may not be as viable as they would be for a bar, but instead, how about taking baby steps and going halfway till 3 am? I have been fighting long for restaurants to have a 3 am deadline on all days. Today, if you go out after your work day (post 10 pm), you might want to party beyond the 1.30 am deadline. When they allow bars in five star hotels to remain open till 3 am, why discriminate against us restaurants?”

Riyaaz Amlani adds, “Another fallacy is that this move will make the city more unsafe, but I think that it will actually become safer. There will be more people on the roads and hence, more policing. In Mumbai, over the last few years, we have got permission to stay open till 5 am on December 24 and 31st and there has been no drastic increase in crime on these days. So, you can’t hold back an entire culture and employment of lakhs of people just on the pretext that people are drinking and driving.”

On a hopeful note, he sums up, “A move like this will also really spring the economy of Mumbai. The Maharashtra Government has been pushing for it strongly and I hope that by being the first city to actually implement this, we can set an example to the rest of the country. We really owe it to our cities and ourselves to get out of this state of partial curfew. And where else, but Mumbai?”

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