The Supreme Court, on Friday, upheld its December 2016 decision to ban the sale of liquor within a 500-metre radius of national and state highways.
The move has sounded a death knell for many businesses, particularly for 34 pubs in Gurugram’s popular CyberHub, who will not be able to renew their licenses.
The Quint took a stroll through CyberHub a day before the ban comes into effect on 1 April. Is it business as usual, or are bars looking at permanently shutting shop? Read on:
The Bad News
Pubs and drinking establishments account for a large amount of footfall at CyberHub. Some of these establishments rely entirely on their alcohol sales. The Circus, for example, is one such pub. Workers at The Circus say the future looks bleak as the bar has no alternate streams of revenue.
A representative told The Quint:
We will have to shut shop tomorrow. Doosri naukri dhoondni padegi (I’ll have to find another job). Whatever will happen, will happen I suppose.
Even high-end pubs like Hard Rock Cafe are worried about the ban. The Gurugram branch is but a part of a popular global franchise, but representatives of the Hard Rock Cafe say they expect their business to take a massive hit.
A representative of the Hard Rock Cafe Gurgaon told The Quint that an estimated 80 percent of the establishment’s revenue comes from liquor sales – while the rest is distributed among food sales, merchandise and tickets for music shows.
At the end of the day, when you’re selling a package to people, you’re not just selling food, you’re selling a package of liquor along with it,” Nikhil Shankaran Kutty, manager of Striker Pub and Brewery on Golf course road, told The Quint.
A lot of people go to these places looking for alcohol because it’s a safe environment. They can go and have a drink and they know that there are good people coming there.
While it is true that some of Gurugram’s most popular pubs are located in CyberHub, the food mall also sees heavy footfall, thanks to its wide range of eateries. For many of these food joints, liquor is but an accompaniment.
Restaurants like Farzi Café, Cafe Delhi Heights and Oh Calcutta! are popular destinations for families and couples alike. The crowd at these eateries during the weekend is proof.
Additionally, CyberHub also plays host to a plethora of fast-food chains like Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme and Kebab Express. These establishments also draw large crowds, which are expected to continue to flock to CyberHub even after the ban.
What Does The SC Verdict Say?
The Supreme Court verdict came on a PIL alleging that nearly 1.42 lakh people died per year in road mishaps and that the drunken driving is a major contributor.
On 31 March, the bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice Dy Chandrachud and Justice L Nageswara Rao, further modified the 500-metre cap rule for Himachal Pradesh and local areas which are alongside highways with a population up to 20,000, and said that they may have liquor vends at a distance of 220 metres from the highways.
On Thursday, the apex court reserved its order on petitions from states and establishments, seeking a modification of the ban.
It had also directed that all signage, indicating the presence of liquor vends, will be prohibited along national and state highways.
(With Inputs from PTI)
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