Residents fret about hysterical party goers shattering their nocturnal serenity, as establishments get set to pull an all-nighter
'The city that never sleeps' sobriquet for Mumbai will stick even further with the State Assembly approving an amendment to the Shops & Establishments Act to allow restaurants and shops in the city to stay open 24/7.
Residents echo fears as they ask, "Sleepless in Mumbai, but will it be sleepless for us, too?'
Nepean Sea Road Citizens Forum secretary Mukul Mehra says, "We are for the economy and keeping it vibrant. Yet, problems in the day, may amplify in the all-night policy. Take for instance, the double and even treble parking that we, in Nepean Sea Road, have nipped in the bud recently, with constant follow-ups with the police. Parking problems were rife at Matru Ashish, which sees commercial outlets and residential. Cars were perennially double parked. Now, temporary dividers put there by the police have helped ease the problem, but this may recur when it comes to night life. We just hope there is enough police patrolling in place, to control such things."
Further south from Nepean Sea road is the city's potboiler mix, Colaba, which by its mix of commercial and residential, defies description, or labels. "I can give you a label – it is chaotic," says an angry Pervez Cooper of the Clean Heritage Colaba Residents Association. Cooper adds, "We are not against change or a vibrant economy. Yet, does the civic arm, the law and order machinery have the ammo in its arsenal to ensure a smooth transition and functioning of night life?" Cooper cites law problems, the run-ins between shops and hawkers on the Colaba Causeway, and the ubiquitous parking problem.
"Will the illegal outlets too be allowed to be kept open all night?" he asks, echoing trepidation by residents. Will swish establishments employ valets take over the parking so we will not find a parking spot at night too? There are a few months I believe before this is implemented. All this must be factored in, before this is implemented."
For Dhaval Shah, founder of the Lokhandwala-Oshiwara Citizens' Association, "There are some grey areas, we need a clear picture when representatives say that this applies to only commercial areas, not residential. Which areas are these? Things are not so black 'n' white in Mumbai. There of course needs to be more infrastructure, when it comes to 24/7 like more patrolling, more helplines for residents. There should not be blanket approval, but a case-by-case basis. If a commercial establishment wants a license to be opened all night, owners must approach authorities. This whetting panel must also have a local person, representing the citizens. He too must have a say in the permissions given, what restrictions can be put so that the all night opening, does not wreak havoc for locals. This license should be renewable, and not for life."
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