THE SUPREME Court’s observations that highway bars and pubs falling within city limits are exempt from its December 2016 prohibitory order on sale of liquor on highways was greeted with much relief by city hoteliers whose bars were lying shut since April 1. The apex court’s clarification is expected to revive the dry and deserted sector 26 and other areas of Madhya marg which was a hub of clubs, bars and microbreweries.
After the ban, UT had denotified all the state highways within the city and declared them to be Major district roads. But Madhya Marg (sectors 26, 7 and others), a state highway, and Himalaya Marg (sectors 35, 43 and others), a National highway, could not be saved through this route. Most of the hotels and restaurants with bars located in sectors 26,7,35, 43 and Industrial area phase II either closed down or scaled down operations drastically, leading to hundreds of job losses.
The administration is soon likely to denotify Madhya marg and Himalaya marg as well. “We will act once we receive the written orders of the court,” said a senior official. City hoteliers’ joy knew no bounds the moment the court’ observations were out. Amrinder Pal Singh, President of Hotels and Restaurants association said,” We all suffered huge losses. We knew that this plea of bar owners would be definitely heard and that is why we were waiting.”
Hopes have revived for the new microbreweries which were coming up at sector 26. Kingdom of Beer, Flyp@MTV and several others had set up their business but they did not get the bar license because of the ban. Some of them have been serving only food now.
Ankit Gupta, President of Chandigarh Hospitality associaion said, “ The ban is essentially meant for high speeding vehicles on highways outside the municipal limits of a city. We are thankful to the SC. We just want that now UT Administration may take necessary steps to prevent further damage like job and business loss.
For some, it comes too late
However, those who had already relocated from Sector 26 (Madhya marg) and rented alternative sites in Industrial area phase 1 are feeling ‘cheated’. Some have already spent lakhs moving out of their original premises and constructionsat the new site. The rent had shot up exponentially in anticipation as bar owners ousted from Sector-26 Madhya Marg started looking for new premises.
Tamzara, Restaurant and club in Sector 26 had shut down and already started its construction in the Godrej Eternia building in industrial area phase 1. A representative of the club said, “ We really feel bad. It is obvious that when a ban is imposed, the person will relocate himself as he has to earn his living. Was it logical that we would have been sitting there without any customer only to wait for a revision in the decision?”
He added, “ Sector 26 was an established belt of clubs. We know we won’t receive that much footfall here but we can’t go back now. To shift the plant and machinery from one place to another costs us lakhs.” Four outlets that had moved from 26 are coming up at Godrej Eternia. Those who waited said they ‘feel lucky’. Vikas, owner, Kingdom of Beer in Sector 26, who had almost finalised his move to Industrial area phase 1, said , “ Thankfully we decided to stay here in sector 26. Our talks were almost finalised for the new place but we thought that before starting the construction we may wait for the court’s order after the vacation as we were hopeful that bar owners would definitely be heard.” (Express News Service)