BBMP, Excise officials also demand their pound of flesh

The revelations made by two pub owners, who run their establishments in Koramangala and Indiranagar, is a story that casts a harsh light on the nuts and bolts of a rotting system.

The police are the least of their worries: they have to pay Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and Excise officials as well.

The trade licence issued by the BBMP’s Health Department costs the applicant far more than the amount to be paid legitimately to the government. “The actual fee is around Rs. 25,000. I have to pay an additional Rs. 40,000 to the BBMP official to renew it,” says a pub owner in Indiranagar.

Bribe for refunds

An office-bearer of hospitality industries’ trade body says that the BBMP was supposed to implement the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 by 2011.

Under this Act, all other levies imposed by the BBMP must be suspended and Rs. 5,000 charged as an all-inclusive annual tax.

“As per this Act, the extra money we paid to renew our trade licences should be refunded to us. They want a cut as bribe to return that money also,” he said. He also alleges that all bribes applicable to restaurant-bar and pub owners double for those who run upmarket joints.

“Such as the ones who operate inside UB City, for instance,” he says.

There are dozens of restaurant-bars and pubs on the Indiranagar 100 ft Road. “Calculate how much the jurisdictional policemen must be making in a month based on the figures I gave you,” he says.

Pub owners must pay up to Rs. 1,000 a month to sub-inspectors in the Excise Department, while an inspector charges between Rs. 8,000 and Rs. 10,000 a month. And it is Rs. 50,000 for the annual renewal of licences.

All these bribes are in addition to the money demanded by the police.

Well oiled machinery

A “Cheetah” constable comes around 7 p.m. and another at midnight. Each has to be paid Rs. 50. The “Hoysala” van comes once a week and returns richer by anything between Rs. 200 and Rs. 500. The jurisdictional police station is paid between Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 15,000 per month. Not to forget the spot bribe of Rs. 2,000 if the police find some over-enthusiastic customer standing and swaying to the music during a surprise check, particularly when the joints don’t have discotheque licences.

A pub owner alleges that the grant of discotheque licences that has recently started has become grounds for another scam: Dance bar owners can get one for a cool Rs. 1 lakh.

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