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Cops, plastic ban and garbage woes take the fizz out of pubs, restaurants


Owners Want Licensing System Streamlined

Over-regulation, harassment by police, plastic ban and garbage are the major problems plaguing pubs, bars and restaurants, industry members said at a round-table meeting on Friday. “We pay anywhere between Rs 8.000 and 30,000 to police every month. Owners of small stalls also pay paltry amounts to beat cops every day. We are a soft target. We do not want to appease officials and that is why we have been demanding that the licensing pro-cess be streamlined,” said Riyaaz Amlani, president, Restaurants Association of India (NRAI). ‘A senior cop once asked me whether I want to be a businessman or a crusader. I was told to shut up and pay if I wanted to remain a businessman,” an association member said. NRAI said the plastic ban has increased their operational costs. “Biodegradable packaging is cost-lier by 300%. Smaller outlets will find it hard to pay Rs 12 fora plastic container which earlier costed merely Rs 3,” Riyaaz told TOI.

Ashish Kothare from NRAI’s Bengaluru chapter blamed the garbage menace for their woes. “Most hotels segregate waste in two bins but it is dumped in one truck. Later, we are called bulk generators who don’t segregate. Unfortunately, 98% of the waste generated by our sector can be recycled but 78% goes to landfills,” he said. “Ours is an over-regulated sec-tor, although it is twice as big as IT industry It generates a business of Rs 4.8 lakh crore a year and employs 22 million people,” Riyaaz said. No new liquor outlet has opened in the city since 1992. With watering holes mushrooming at prime locations, this may sound unbelievable but there’s an explanation for the discrepancy. The establishments that have come up after 1992 are functioning on old licences that NO CHEER: In the pub capital of India, owners of liquor-serving outlets feel they are burdened with regulations have changed hands. “When you spot a new bar somewhere, it is not actually new. The licence of a bar which has been shut down some-where is used to set up another one. The owner’s name in the licence remains the same,” said Riyaaz. Licences are traded for up to Rs 1 crore each, he admitted. In Karnataka, there is a duplication in the licensing procedure as the outlets also have to obtain a trade licence from the municipality. The application process for trade licences may have gone online but the certificate is handed over in person, indicating that bribes are rampant.

In a country that ranks high on the corruption index, greasing palms is imperative for any business to thrive. This is a no-brainer and yet no attempts are being made to alter the situation. Karnataka is no exception; neither is the restaurant industry. The grievances of pub/bar owners not only show that graft is all-pervasive but also point to the lack of transparency in the licensing system. The government should take stringent steps to redress the complaints of a sector which is a vital contributor to the economy. It should begin by cracking the whip on errant cops who have no qualms in pocketing someone else’s hard-earned money.

Source: Times of India, Bangalore


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