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Mixed reaction to Centre’s 24/7 shop policy


Delhiites’ quest for a genuine nightlife in the city got a boost on Wednesday, with the Union Cabinet clearing a Bill that allows shops, cinemas, restaurants and malls to stay open throughout the night.

For too many in the Capital, the weekend ends with a last call and police asking patrons to leave restaurants and bars.

But, with the Model Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) Act being passed by the Cabinet, businesses will be allowed to remain open 24/7.

While that sounds good, the Act has to be implemented by States, the Delhi government is yet to comment on their plans after the Centre gave its go-ahead.

Delhi Tourism and Culture Minister Kapil Mishra had previously come out in favour of extending the hours of operation of establishments.

On Wednesday, Mr. Mishra said: “We welcome the step, but we will have to see how it can be applied to Delhi.”

The restaurant industry, which had been campaigning for being allowed to stay open longer than the current 1 a.m. deadline, said the Cabinet’s decision would help boost tourism.

The president of the National Restaurant Association of India, Riyaaz Amlani, called the move a victory for the NRAI.

“We are delighted as this will go a long way in boosting the economy and employment. We are hopeful that the State and local authorities will cooperate and adopt this model,” said Mr. Amlani.

Small business unhappy

However, not everyone welcomed the decision.

Traders and market associations said the change in rules would benefit larger establishments that can bear the costs of additional infrastructure and staff. The Act applies to businesses that employ 10 or more people, leaving out kirana shops, markets in residential areas and the unorganised sector.

“Our margins are not such that we can have three shifts. This law will actually help only malls, which seems to be the intention of the government,” said Sanjiv Mehra, the president of the Khan Market Traders’ Association.

Mr. Mehra said that the safety of employees and patrons, particularly women, would be a concern and the Delhi Police would not be happy with the added pressure.

Other traders rubbished the decision.

Ashok Randhawa, the president of the Sarojini Nagar Mini Market Traders Association, said that the Act would turn out to be impractical to implement, and only benefit commercial hubs next to railway stations and offices open till late. He added that most markets, including Sarojini Nagar, South Extension etc., would face losses if they stayed open all night as they wouldn’t have the footfall needed to be successful.

Restaurateurs across the city, however, remained upbeat about the new rule. Aman Arora, marketing director of Keventers, said it would help in generating employment in the hospitality sector and will benefit those who work on night shifts.

“Harassment of businesses by the police would also reduce. But, it would also throw up challenges like drunken driving and public nuisance,” he said.

Joy Singh, co-owner of Raasta in Hauz Khas Village, said the only drawback would be implementation by the State government and the availability of staff to work late shifts.

Source: The Hindu

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