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Gurugram in low spirits following SC ban on liquor shops near highway


Restaurant managers fear thousands may lose their jobs if the order is implemented; many planning ways to circumvent the ruling

The recent Supreme Court order calling for a ban on liquor shops within 500 metres of national and State highways across the country has triggered panic among big names in the restaurant business.

“Thousands of people stand to lose their jobs,” says Lalit, restaurant manager at Imperfecto, DLF Cyberhub, in response to the ruling.

Imperfecto, which is housed on the second floor, is among the most popular go-to spots for youngsters. Looking out at the grey towers that flank Cyber Hub, it is not difficult to spot the slight hesitation before Lalit agrees to talk about the impact the ruling may have.

“Cyber Hub is located on the DLF premises, with proper security arrangements in place. Restaurants here adhere to all norms. I don’t understand why we would be impacted,” he said.

Though it is not clear about how the ruling will be implemented, many in the restaurant business feel that a clampdown on pubs/bars will mean blocking employment opportunities.

Deepak, restaurant manager at Hard Rock Café, said, “I have been working at Cyber Hub for the last three years, which is when this place started picking up. I wonder why a 500-metre limit was set. What if Cyber Hub was 600-metres away from the highway? This uncertainty wouldn’t have sprung up,” he said. He also pointed out to how the liquor vends were more appropriate targets if objective was to check drunk-driving accidents.

Delhiites at the receiving end

“If someone has to drink, they will still manage to get liquor. For example, if it is a dry day in Delhi, people are ready to come all the way till Gurugram. They know that one or the other theka will give them liquor. This needs to be looked at first before pubs/bars are brought under the scanner,” said Deepak.

Some others, meanwhile, rued how the restaurant business had been courting trouble for a while — first with the debate around service tax and now the SC ruling. “If restaurants lose business, job cuts will follow. In a city like Delhi, it is difficult to survive if you don’t get a month’s pay. Things will become difficult for the people who are handed pink slips,” he added.

While relocating all restaurants inside Cyber Hub will be difficult, among one of the solutions floating is changing the present entrance and moving it to another side, away from the highway. At present, Cyber Hub houses names like Hard Rock Café, Farzi Café, The Wine Company, Sodabottleopenerwaala, Raasta, Imperfecto, Starbucks, among others.

Wrong target

People who frequent Cyber Hub, meanwhile, welcomed the SC’s move to target drunk driving, but felt that restaurants/pubs may be the wrong target. “The target should be cars parked outside wine shops. Rules should be buy and go, not buy, sit, drink and then go,” said Ruchi Sirohi Dahiya, a resident of Gurugram.

However, she added that going by the number of accidents caused by irresponsible drivers, the ruling may not have much of an impact on them. “I see youngsters drinking in cars all the time. Will they be sober while driving back? ” said Ms. Dahiya.

Many others, too, agreed that action was first needed against local thekas . “People who want to drink and drive will still do so. Stopping people from sitting in restaurants and drinking will not make much of a difference,” said Akshay Gupta, who also works with a MNC in Gurugram.

Prateek Kukreja, who works with an IT firm in the Millennium City and has been coming to Cyber Hub for the last four years, however, said the ruling would not impact him. “Drunk driving has been a major reason behind accidents. A start from anywhere is good,” he said.

Source: The Hindu

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