‘Sad day for food and beverage industry’, says hoteliers on liquor ban

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New Delhi, April 4 (IANS) Unhappy at the Supreme Court ban on sale of liquor on highways, owners of hotels and restaurants have raised concerns over the hundreds of thousands who stand to lose their jobs as a consequence of the decision.

“It is the saddest day for the food and beverage industry… the worst day of our lives. There are millions of employees small and big who stand to lose their jobs, many will have to mortgage their houses, not to say anything of the loss to the industry, which will be huge,” President of National Restaurant Association of India Riyaz Amlani told IANS.

He called the move “especially sad” given the promises made to big commercial centres that have come up lately near the airports and other places on highways with big hopes.

“What about places like Aerocity with so many 5 Star hotels? They had come up with high aspirations, even the government claimed that it will be the biggest commercial centre in South Asia. Who will come to such places when you are not even able to serve liquor to your customers,” Amlani said.

He added that there’s “no hope” against the decision and they will have to live with it.

Another prominent restaurateur said that there could have been other ways to tackle the situation instead of a ban.

“We respect the Supreme Court decision which we believe has always worked for the welfare of the country at large. However, the injunction against the restaurants and hotels is wrong since the court specifically made the ruling against ‘liquor vends’ where you buy alcohol and leave, and not hotels where you are not allowed to leave with the bottle,” Zoravar Kalra, Founder and Managing Director of Massive Restaurants, told IANS.

He said the decision to impose a ban on hotels from serving liquor on highways and 500 metres away from them is hardly prudent, and anyone who is even moderately willing can find his drink 1,000 or 2,000 metres away.

“I think the better way to handle the situation of drunken-driving is by enforcement of existing laws with stricter measures… Indians are one of the most law abiding people in the world. I have not seen them breaking any law in Dubai or other foreign countries. It’s because of fear of repercussions, which is a bigger deterrent than a ban,” Kalra said.

“We, the entire hotel industry condemn drunk-driving, we hate it. But we would still have wanted a more reasonable approach to the situation, instead of a ban which will cause loss of jobs to millions and loss of at least one lakh crore rupees in revenue,” he added.

One restaurateur resorted to social media to make light of the ban and posted a couple of sarcastic barbs.

“A man falls asleep behind the wheel of his car after having a heavy lunch of ‘parantha and lassi’ and meets with an accident on the Highway…Supreme Court to hear plea to ban all Dhabas serving Paranthas and Lassi on the highway,” Priyank Sukhija, owner of Warehouse Cafe and Open House Cafe, wrote on Facebook.

“Every time I pick up the newspaper .. there is a question in my head … what’s the new ban today? Why doesn’t the government ban all bans .. food for thought,” he wrote in an other post.

The Supreme Court order on March 31 reaffirmed its earlier decision (December 15, 2016) to ban liquor vending along the national and state highways in a bid to curb accidents caused by drunken driving.

–IANS

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