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Bengaluru’s pubs on MG Road set to down shutters


As per a report in The Hindu Business Line, Bengaluru’s high street MG Road, which ushered in the pub culture in India in the eighties, will lose its sheen from July 1 with the Supreme Court order banning liquor sale on highways. As per the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), MG Road is a highway and hence bars, restaurants and pubs located within 500 metres which include the fashion street, Brigade Road, as well will be closed down from July 1. Totally, about 230 pubs and restaurants serving liquor will face closure. The loss from the closure will be about INR 60 crore in licence fee and INR 7,220 crore as excise revenue to the state.

A senior excise department official said the state government had written a letter to NHAI couple of weeks ago but it seems there has been no change in the stand of NHAI. As there has been no response so far, the department has started issuing letters to the liquor retail stores to down shutters from July 1. The official said there was a bit of confusion regarding the interpretation of the classification of the national highway.

The Karnataka government is in a dilemma because of the NHAI’s stand as it cannot afford closure of bars and restaurants as sizeable revenue of state’s own tax mobilisation through excise department comes in from these liquor outlets. According to excise department statistics, for the financial year (FY) 2016-17, the department earned INR 6,200 crore and for FY 2017- 18, a target of INR 18,050 crore has been fixed. An official said “Yes, few roads were on NH, but few years ago, certain stretches in Bengaluru city were denotified. Hence, we asked the NHAI to clarify as to which part falls under the SC order and which sections are out of the purview.”

In addition to the Bengaluru’s central business district, few localities such as Indiranagar and certain stretches on Mysuru, Ballari and Tumukuru roads are waiting for clarification from the NHAI. With no clarification on hand, few days ago, the excise department initiated closure of bars and restaurants and had issued letters. An official, however, said that those which hold licenses can relocate their business to other parts of the city.

Source: HospitalityBizIndia

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