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Plan for first microbrewery faces hiccup



NEW DELHI: Delhi’s thirst for tapped beer will take a bit longer to be quenched. Expectations were high after a restobar in Connaught Place applied to install a microbrewery on its premises following a change in policy. But the city may have to wait for three months or more now because of the necessity to insert microbrewery as a permissible category in the Master Plan for Delhi 2021.

Amending MPD appeared at one to be a mere formality, but it is clear now that it would involve a multi-step process, including a 30-day period when the public will be invited to submit objections and suggestions. It is only after this that the excise department and Delhi Pollution Control Committee can give the requisite approval.

TOI had reported on February 1 that the restobar had fulfilled the prerequisites of the licensing and the microbrewery was set to open once DPCC’s approval was acquired.

The lieutenant Governor had given his in-principle approval to microbreweries in the city late last year, omitting them from the “prohibited” activities in MPD. It was felt that a microbrewery, unlike an industrial unit, was a small set-up and was, therefore, not a polluting facility. The excise department said the possibility of pollution due to residues at microbreweries producing up to 500 litres of beer a day had been assessed and determined not to be the cause of pollution.

Excise commissioner Amjad Tak reiterated, “At our end, we found that the lone application fulfilled the licence requirements. However, we can give the final approval only after DPCC’s clearance.” The pollution body is learnt to have pointed out in turn that it could consider the application only after brewing of beer was incorporated as a permissible activity in MPD.

The environment department proposed the requisite change in MPD to DDA after the LG gave his approval. According to DDA sources, the file was received in December and was put before the DDA technical committee in January. It will now need to be placed for approval before the DDA Authority chaired by the LG, the sources explained. “Only after this panel’s go-ahead will the proposed amendment be put up for public objections and suggestions,” a DDA official elaborated. “If objections are raised, these will be placed before a board of inquiry. If the board green signals the approval, the amendment will be discussed by the DDA Authority again before it is sent to the Union urban development ministry to enable notification.”

The application for a microbrewery at Ministry of Beer in Connaught Place is the only one scrutinised by the excise department. While the decision to allow microbreweries was taken three years ago by Delhi government, the delay in implementation forced many who had applied for a licence to shift base, mainly to Gurgaon where most of the National Capital Region’s beer brewing facilities are installed.

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