Chandigarh’s liquor business takes massive hit after SC order

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Chandigarh’s liquor business takes massive hit after SC order

Chandigarh, April 1 (IANS) Losses running into millions of rupees, hundreds of skilled men and women losing their jobs, owners staring at an uncertain future after having invested millions — all this has become a harsh reality for scores of restaurants, hotels, pubs and night clubs in the union territory of Chandigarh following the recent Supreme Court order directing that liquor cannot be sold in an area of 500 metres from highways.

With Chandigarh’s prominent roads, like the Madhya Marg, Dakshin Marg, Himalaya Marg being defined as state highways, several eating and other happening joints, including pubs and micro-breweries, have been forced to stop serving liquor from Saturday (April 1) following the SC ban.

The outlets in Sectors 26, 7, 8, 9, 35, 43 and some parts of the Industrial Area have been the worst hit.

“The business has been completely killed by just one order. No thought, it seems, has been given to how it will affect jobs, livelihood and even investment running into millions. We have all been forced to shut shop,” Mohanbir Singh, owner of several popular restaurants in and around Chandigarh, told IANS here.

While Sector 35 (Himalaya Marg) had been a popular place for restaurants, clubs, party-zones and other eateries for over three decades, Sector 26 (Madhya Marg) had emerged as one of the popular destinations for high-end restaurants, night clubs, pubs and other eating joints.

“It will mean a loss to the establishments and people who work here. Many will lose jobs. Huge investments have been made by establishment owners. There is no consistency in policy. None of the stakeholders were consulted. There can be other ways to deal with the adrink and drive’ problem,a Mohanbir, a former Army officer, whose family was among the pioneers in food business in Chandigarh in the 1970s, pointed out.

Many of the outlets in Sector 26 have opened in the last 2-3 years and have become popular.

Be it families, businessmen, entrepreneurs or the youth — everyone is upset that the outlets in these popular areas will no longer be able to serve booze.

The younger lot, who frequent the night clubs, micro-breweries and other joints, are arguably quite upset.

“What kind of a law is this? How can taking a shop or restaurant 500 metres away curb ‘the don’t drink and drive’ norm. The rule should be applied to the real highways and not to internal roads in cities like Chandigarh. The government and legal authorities should see ground realities first and then take a decision,” Shreya Khanna, who works in the software sector, told IANS.

The Chandigarh Administration, which had earlier classified some roads in the union territory as national and state highways to get funding from the central government, recently issued a notification to re-classify these roads.

“We have invested crores of rupees in renovating the showrooms, putting up expensive equipment, hiring several people and building stocks. We will be ruined with the latest orders,” a young entrepreneur, who recently set up a restaurant in Sector 26, pointed out.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

This is published unedited from the IANS feed.