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Recorded music not allowed, live bands okay: Delhi govt’s new rule for 900 pubs



When asked how live music was less noisy than recorded music, Delhi’s excise commissioner Amjad Tak said that live performances were “softer” and “controlled”.

The Delhi government has decided to stop any recorded music at about 900 restaurants across the city that serve alcohol, citing a rule that allows only live bands to play at such establishments.

The excise department said on Sunday that the decision was taken after residents complained of noise from pubs in places such as Khan Market, Defence Colony and Rajouri Garden.

When asked how live music was less noisy than recorded music, Delhi’s excise commissioner Amjad Tak said that live performances were was “softer” and “controlled”, without giving reasons or data for how he had arrived at the conclusion.

All restaurants that serve alcohol are also called restobars in the Delhi excise department’s nomenclature.

According to the notice, playing recorded music as such places is a violation of the L-17 licence norms under which they operate.

Inspections will take place across the city over the coming weeks, and can even lead to the cancellation of licences, an excise official said on condition of anonymity.

Rule 53 (4) of the Delhi Excise Rules, 2010 states that the L-17 licence is issued by the excise department to restaurants that serve alcohol to their customers. According to the rules, “live singing or playing of instruments by professionals” is permitted.

“Playing of recorded music is a violation of the licensing rules. While permits were issued to these restaurants, it was clearly mentioned, as per the 2010 rules, that they will only be allowed to play live music,” Tak said.

This does not apply to “family restaurants” that do not serve alcohol, because they not come under excise rules.

There is no provision of separate licences for pubs in the Capital.

Restaurateurs said the rule would kill Delhi’s nightlife.

“Having some kind of music adds to the ambience of a place, but not everyone can afford having live bands play for them every night. With band performances, we can’t really guarantee the kind of music we are offering to the audience either,” said Saurabh Oberoi, general secretary of the Hauz Khas market association. The National Restaurants Association of India said it will comment on the issue after internal meetings on the subject of the government circular.

Arun Sinha, a noise impact modelling specialist, said that the way to tackle the problem was setting volume limits and time limits for playing music, rather than a blanket ban.

“The impact from playing a recorded track and a band performing is the same. There is no study that would prove that the sound from live music is softer. Better steps need to be taken to tackle the problem of noise pollution in residential areas,” Sinha said.

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