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Liquor may finally flow in around 50 Delhi haunts


Excise Dept looks at pending licence applications of eateries

Pending applications by about 50 restaurants for licences to serve liquor are now being processed by the Excise Department after the Delhi government recently lifted its almost year-long freeze on new licences.

In September 2016, the government had decided to suspend giving new licences to restaurants and liquor shops after facing criticism over the increase in the number of alcohol vends and bars. While the freeze on new liquor vends still remains, the Excise Department has started processing the pending applications from restaurants.

According to an Excise Department official, about 50 applications will be processed.

‘Quick process’

Those whose premises had already been inspected and have allied valid licences, including no-objection certificates (NOCs) from the Fire Department and health trade licences from the municipal corporations, would be processed quickly, said the official.

Those whose allied licences have expired due to the delay would have to get them again. Inspections are also being lined up, said the official.

While new applications are streaming in, both online and at the department’s offices, the Excise Department is focusing on clearing the backlog.

According to the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), 60 applications, including cases where inspections were done and licence fee paid, had been put on hold due to the ban.

‘A welcome step’

As per the NRAI, the number of liquor licences for restaurants in Delhi were 698, much less compared to other cities. Mumbai has 2,233, Bengaluru has 1,372 and Pune 933.

For restaurants, who had been lobbying the government to lift the ban, the resumption in the process has come as a welcome step.

Pramod Joshi, general manager of Master of Malts in Connaught Place, said the restaurant had been ready since January, but the project got delayed due to the freeze on issuing new liquor licenses.

“We are very happy that the process has started again and we can now start hiring bartenders and staff that will be required when we get our permission. We had put off hiring as we did not know how long it would take to get our licence. Our entire project has been stalled for six months,” he said.

Source: The Hindu

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