Bengaluru

‘It has become impossible to do business in this city’

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Bar owners rue clampdown on outlets that play live music

Monkey Bar, last week, joined the growing list of places that were shut down in the city owing to lack of a Public Entertainment Licence (PEL), but several restaurant owners have claimed that it is near-impossible to procure the licence. There is palpable anger against what they say is “lack of uniformity” among various agencies.

Restaurateur Viraj Suvarna, who shut down his bars — Take5 and Blistering Barnacles — last year, said it was hard to meet the conditions to get the licence. “The Excise Department says you need to have one entry and one exit. Whereas, the Fire Department says you need two entries. When the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, the administrative body responsible for civic amenities, had given us licenses to run our restaurants years ago, these restrictions were not there. After spending all the money to set up the restaurants, everything has suddenly changed,” he said.

After shutting shop in Bengaluru, Mr. Suvarna is trying to restart his pubs in Goa.

On Monday, employees of various bars and restaurants in the city assembled in front of the outlet in Indiranagar, lit candles and laid down flowers to mark its end. They held placards that read ‘I want a job’, ‘I am unemployed’, and suchlike.

Sunil Shetty, who owned the bFlat bar in Indiranagar, concurred with Viraj. “It has become impossible to do business in this city,” he says and adds: “I obtained trade licence from the BBMP 12 years ago. So, I assumed that I’m obeying all the laws. Then they suddenly asked me for an occupancy certificate (OC). Of course, they can say that a mistake made in the past doesn’t make it right now. But at whose expense?”

To get the PEL, establishments have to furnish seven documents of the building they are housed in, which include the OC and an NOC from Fire and Emergency Services. Most pubs and restaurants, however, are unable to furnish the OC as they rent out the premises. “The onus of providing an OC is on the owner of the space,” said a Bengaluru restaurateur.

Social is among the few resto bars in the city that have managed to procure the PEL. Its business head, Ranveer Sabhani, however, says: “You have to go through the rigmarole of putting up with all the legal obligations. Then, you have to deal with the opposition of anybody who’s staying in the vicinity who can raise a concern and stop you from getting the PEL even if you are compliant of all legalities.”

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 7:57:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/it-has-become-impossible-to-do-business-in-this-city/article30100471.ece

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