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Should Karnataka walk with Tamil Nadu on 24/7 path?

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As Maharashtra, Gujarat and TN approve round-the-clock operations of commercial establishments, Bengalureans feels they should get the access too

On Thursday, the Tamil Nadu government passed an order, allowing all shops and commercial establishments in the state, employing at least 10 people, to stay open for 24 hours for the next three years. This was done to boost the retail trade and generate employment. The Gujarat government made a similar announcement in February. Before that, Maharashtra became the first state in India to issue the notice, last year.

So is it time Karnataka follows suit, given that in 2016, the union government had cleared the Model Shops and Establishment Bill, 2016, allowing retail commercial establishments to stay open 24 hours? Bengalureans definitely think so, and a few have even heard that a 24*7 convenience store is in the offing in the city.

Manu Chandra, restaurateur and Bengaluru chapter head of National Restaurant Association of India, thinks this measure is long overdue. He explains, “Bengaluru has changed in the last decade – it doesn’t work 9 to 5 anymore. Many people work late in the night. I get off work in the morning and I have nowhere to shop. Whereas, as a young chef working in New York, I remember walking out of work at 2.30am, going to a local store to eat and pick up a shake.” However, he thinks that 24/7 bars and pubs aren’t a necessity and if they are to run, they must operate in special zones, away from residential complexes.

College student Sushmita Mitra, 20, would like all-night venues too. “When I can’t shop groceries after 10pm, I order them online and pay extra charges for early morning delivery. And at times, my friends and I drive all the way to Rasta Cafe to chill out and play games, because we’ve no other option,” the resident of Hebbal shares. She feels the 24/7 buzz on the streets will also encourage women to come out in the night.

While representatives from the city malls did not want to comment, supermarket managers think round-the-clock operations will ease up the lives of their customers. As Mohammed Sadiq of the Chandra Layout branch of Village Hyper Bazaar says, “At times, people get off from work really late or can’t come to our store due to heavy rains.”

Many people work late in the night. I get off work in the morning and I have nowhere to shop. Whereas, in New York, I remember walking out of work at 2.30am, going to a local store to eat and pick up a shake

But a few opposed the idea, like IT service professional Arjama Roy, who sometimes works the night shift says, “The traffic situation and noise pollution in Bengaluru is already bad, why would you want to make it worse with 24-hour operations? Plus, more traffic means more pollution.” Still, if the rule comes in, she would want it restricted only to the weekends.

Then, others have concerns about hiring extra staff. Add to that, the lack of competent staff. Kumaravelu Babu, manager of the Brigade Road-branch of Nilgiris Supermarket, says, “People these days don’t want to work hard. Ask one of the new joinees to shift a bag from one place to another in the store and he/she quits the next day.” From an operation perspective, “We’d need 24/7 power facility,” he adds.

The bigger reservation, however, is safety. As Sadiq says, “We can’t think of letting female staff work at night. It’s a risk.” In Tamil Nadu, it is mandatory for the employers to provide transport to female employees. Babu asks: “What if people come into the store drunk, straight out of a bar?”

Still, Abdul Khader, general manager (operations) of Empire Hotel, which operates as late as 3am, is hopeful. “I think the reason why 24/7 wasn’t implemented is because of the fear of pub brawls and drunken behaviour. But the police patrolling has improved a lot, so I think now we can have this.”

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