Restauranteurs welcome night circuit proposal in Delhi's DMP-2041, hypothetical, say market bodies

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New Delhi, Jun 10 (PTI) Market associations and restaurateurs here appeared divided on Thursday in their opinion on the Draft Master Plan (DMP) for Delhi - 2041 proposing to promote 'nightlife culture' in the city.

While restaurateurs hailed the proposal as a 'great idea', market associations dismissed it as being a 'hypothetical' concept.

The DMP, which was placed in the public domain for objections and suggestions from common citizens on Wednesday, envisages a nightlife culture where people can step out for entertainment and leisure during the late hours.

It has also proposed that agencies will work together and identify Night Circuits (NCs) -- streets or areas such as cultural precincts, areas with concentration of heritage assets -- for a vibrant nightlife and night-time economy in the city.

'Nightlife in Delhi is a hypothetical thing. We just don't have the civic sense. Just look at the way people drive their cars. With nightlife coming into play, you will see youngsters indulging in drink and drive, thereby not only risking lives of theirs but of others as well.

'You first have to teach civic sense to people here and then hope to have a nightlife culture in the next 20-30 years,' Sanjeev Mehra, president of Khan Market Traders' Association, told PTI.

'This might help the professionals working in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector in getting 'more food options' at night but not retailers, who with sales going down the drain' are happy if they get to make business on the days -- especially in the times of the pandemic,' Mehra added.

New Delhi Traders Association (NDTA) president Atul Bhargava echoed similar sentiments and said it was high time we 'not compare India with abroad', which he noted has 'better civic amenities' and follow stringent 'security and safety' measures, and not try emulating them just because we have seen them doing it successfully there.

'The thought process is good, but then the question is can it really be implemented in India and in Delhi? Now, don't compare it to abroad, things are different there -- be it civic amenities, security, and whatnot,' said Bhargava.

'Here, people don't feel safe to come out after 9-9:30 pm so what nightlife we are talking about. Also, the administration can't make decisions sitting in their offices, they have to discuss it with the markets and local people because they know what is better and what is not,' he added.

The indifferent reaction from the market associations was poles apart from the spirited welcome the proposal has got from city-based restaurateurs who were all said it would offer them a world of opportunities if and when the plan gets the official nod.

The draft, a statutory document that facilitates Delhi's development by assessing the present condition and guiding how to achieve the desired development over the next two decades, has been prepared by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

While Sumit Goyal, owner Gastronomica at GK 1, said the idea was in sync with a 'world class city like Delhi' and would 'promote national and international tourists' in the capital, Udit Bagga, co-owner OTB Courtyard at Connaught Place, said extending the operational hours will generate more revenue and employment for the industry.

'We in the hospitality industry obviously are really excited about the proposal. This is a pot of gold towards the end of the rainbow. Hopefully we would reclaim our old glory and get an opportunity to cover our losses. My only request to the government is to reduce red-tapism and procedural hindrances. Even today every permission or license needs a lot of follow up and a mountain of paperwork,' said Goyal.

Satyajit Dhingra, chief regional officer, North, Impresario Handmade Restaurants, who welcomed the initiative wholeheartedly, warned that there are pros and cons to every plan and talked about logistical and administrative challenges such as 'obtaining linked licenses, availability of transportation through the night as well as safety and security'.

'In order to boost nightlife in the city and the hospitality industry, we would recommend creating more 'Restaurant Hubs' in the capital to enable restaurants to develop and thrive.

'Proper parking facilities, dedicated hubs for transportation availability, connectivity to high street markets as well as adequate space for utilities like sewage treatment plants, would support restaurants and bars to provide a wholesome experience to their patrons while contributing to the capital's rich cultural offering,' he added.

The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) termed the proposal to have dedicated nightlife circuits and public plazas in Delhi as 'exciting'.

'If done right, this will propel the night time economy significantly in Delhi. Night time economy is a critical component in pushing Indian economy to the coveted 5 USD trillion mark. This will also substantially help job creation apart from adding a buzzing vibrancy to Delhi.

'I truly commend the authorities for bringing out this proposal. This progressive move combined with recently announced excise policy will help Delhi emerge as the party capital of India,' NRAI President Anurag Katiar said. PTI MG TRS GJS GJS TDS TDS

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