AS A mark of protest against the ban on serving liquor in hotels, restaurants and bars, the owners and staff lit candles outside the premises in different sectors in Chandigarh on Sunday evening.
Following the orders of the Supreme Court banning sale of liquor at bars located within 500 metres of the national and state highways, around 70 hotels and restaurants along Madhya Marg and National Highway 21 in Chandigarh have been impacted. Uncertainty is prevailing over the future of the staff employed at these establishments as the owners stare at a dip in profits.
Candlelighting was done outside the hotels and restaurants in sectors 7, 8, 9, 26, 35 and 43. After lighting candles in front of the hotels and restaurants in Sector 26, the staff members stood along Madhya Marg holding placards in their hands.
The hotel associations have taken a decision to hold a protest in Sector 17 on Monday where the owners and staff of all hotels and restaurants across the city will be present.
“I cannot let my staff members be unemployed. They have been with me for so many years. So, we are looking at every possible option and are also considering a legal route. The protest will continue till we find an appropriate solution,” said Manish Goyal, owner of S Cafe and Swagath restaurant in Sector 26.
The ban came into force on Saturday. The bars that are packed with party revellers over the weekend wore a deserted look. Revenue from liquor forms a substantial part of the earnings of the hotels and restaurants. At present, the existing stock of liquor has been sealed. Officials from the Excise Department also conducted checks to ensure that liquor is not being served.
At Tamazzara lounge in Sector 26, Komal, the public relations manager, said, “The sales have just gone down. We are not generating any revenue as it is based on liquor. We are going to meet the mayor as well and decide further course of action.”
A staff member of a bar in Sector 35 said that there was a lot of uncertainty about whether the staff would be able to retain jobs. He added that everyone was hoping that the apex court would review its decision and their jobs would be secure.
“The ban will have an impact on the livelihoods of hundreds of people working in hotels and restaurants in the city. The hospitality sector is one of the biggest employment generators. We have taken a decision to hold a protest in Sector 17 on Monday. A representation will also be given to the UT Administration,” said hotelier M P S Chawla.
No liquor at Press Club too
Along with other clubs, pubs and hotels, the Chandigarh Press Club, Sector 27, has also stopped serving liquor as the club falls within 500 metres of Madhya Marg, a state highway. A statement from the Press Club stated, “As per the decision of apex court and further directive of excise department, no liquor will be served in the club till further orders.”
The Press Club is situated around 330 metres from Madhya Marg. An office-bearer of the club’s governing body said the liquor stock worth Rs 10 lakh had been sealed.