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Live music ban: Restaurateurs say they are fighting new battles every single day



BENGALURU: For nearly a year, restaurateurs in Bengaluru have had sleepless nights over various bans and restrictions in the F&B industry. From the highway ban last year, to authorities cracking the whip over live music earlier this year, they say that the entire industry is being vilified and a solution needs to be mapped out soon. Having approached officials and residents, restaurateurs feel that they are going around in circles, since the list of issues are never ending. How does this fare in the Pub City? And why, they ask, is only the restaurant business being targeted?


Manu Chandra, restaurateur and president of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), Bengaluru Chapter, says that it’s not only about the music ban and procuring certain documents, but the whole industry is being targeted because of the wrong-doings of certain establishments.

Manu says, “This blanket ruling on all the F&B establishments is unfair. We are being termed villains. There is a misalignment in the people who are being accused, and the actual perpetrators. As an organisation, we have a set of rules that everyone has to follow and there are certain establishments that have crossed a line. We’ve told authorities to take stringent actions against establishments that are flouting rules.”

In the past, several Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) have objected to the illegal commercialisation of establishments in residential areas. But members of the NRAI say that they have been targeted unfairly. “We have tried to engage with RWAs in a positive fashion, but they have completely rejected the request. They have a single objective and that is to de-commercialise the entire area. You cannot take one of the biggest hubs in the city and make it go away. These pockets were commercialised after consulting the residents of that particular area. We have been very sensitive to them but now it has gotten to a point where the nature of complaints is getting out of hand. Some RWAs are going after establishments without even looking into the veracity of their claims,” says Manu.


While the list of documents needed for a commercial establishment to operate is long, procuring these documents is not an easy task, say members of the NRAI. “The list of licenses needed just to open an establishment is preposterous. We are constantly thinking, ‘Do I need this license?’ and sometimes we are asked for a license we didn’t even think we would need. Even lawyers put their hands up, and say that they don’t know who’s going to knock at our doors tomorrow,” says Manu, adding, “Half of us don’t even know what the music license is and most of us have applied for it already. The OC and the NOC from the fire department are the two big issues. We don’t understand why an OC is needed to play music, but it is a part of the list of needed documents, so we have applied for it.”


Although officials have lent an ear to the problems, a lot needs to be done to find a concrete solution, says Amit Roy, restaurateur and member of NRAI. “We want officials to fix rules that make sense. Blanket rules won’t work. We want a body constituted that makes sure that the rules are being implemented. Rules need to be restructured or amended. Not everyone is flouting them. For e.g., certain eateries only serve food and not play music, but they come under the same blanket. Rules need to be formulated looking at today’s scenario. Officials need to restructure rules and penalise any violators who don’t comply,” says Amit. Manu adds, “Policies need to be framed. We’ve made a presentation, which we will be presenting to the governor. It’s a very stringent self-auditing measure. We have created a road map for all parties involved in this — residents in some areas, the government and establishments. Safety and compliance towards measures is of primary concern to us. Throwing the old rule book at us makes no sense. If certain criteria cannot be met, we need to engage with the government officials to see what is the best way is around this.”

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