All those upmarket hookah and sheesha bars in the city face closure as the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Council on Tuesday decided to impose a ban on them.
This decision was taken after Yediyur councillor N.R. Ramesh raised the issue and termed the numerous hookah joints in the city as cesspools of illegal activities. He maintained that hookahs were not “part of our culture.” “The coal used is harmful when inhaled. Many centres mix narcotic drugs such as marijuana and opium to hook youngsters, who eventually get addicted. Many of these centres don't have trade licences,” he charged.
He then said barring one centre in Istanbul, no other place on earth followed the actual hookah tradition and practices and urged the Council to adopt a resolution on banning these centres.
Deputy Commissioner (Health) Ramachandra Murthy said that hookah centres came under “new trades,” which did not feature in the list specified in the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act 1976. He said the BBMP would urge Police Commissioner Shankar M. Bidari to monitor the hookah centres in the city and look into the veracity of the claims of drug sale.
Following these allegations, Mayor S.K. Nataraj passed a resolution stating that all hookah places in the city shall be banned.
Later, Mr. Nataraj announced a reward of Rs. 2,000 to any individual or group who seize lorries illegally dumping debris into lake beds, on road sides or in empty sites, and bring the vehicle to the BBMP headquarters. Lorry owners would be have to cough up Rs. 10,000 as penalty and the vehicles would be seized and be in BBMP's custody for 15 days.
This was a fallout of the subject raised by Nagapura councillor S. Harish, who said there were several builders who illegally dumped the debris wherever they wanted without BBMP's permission.
He suggested that during the time of building plan approval, the builder should show BBMP the site where the debris would be dumped.
Property owners who have defaulted on the tax payments will have to face the “humiliation” of drumbeats in front of their homes. Commissioner Siddaiah said that BBMP would have to resort to such extreme measures to garner more revenue and ensure that owners pay taxes on time. This apart, he said, movable properties would be seized and auctioned as the BBMP has been empowered to do this in the KMC Act. He also said that the names and addresses of the defaulters would be published in newspapers.