Change archaic laws to boost Mumbai's nightlife: Hotel association tells Aaditya Thackeray

Feb 18, 2015, 12:48 IST | Dharmendra Jore

Representatives of the Hotel & Restaurant Association (Western India) told Yuva Sena president Aaditya Thackeray and BJP leader Shaina NC that licencing laws need to be amended to increase ease of doing business and reduce corruption

Buoyed by the state government’s positive approach in making the city open 24x7, hoteliers in the city and state have asked for amendments to archaic laws and regulations that make doing business in the city a nightmare.

Representatives of the Hotel & Restaurant Association (western India), which consists of national and international hotel chains, met Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray and BJP leader Shaina N C yesterday.  Pic/Atul Kamble
Representatives of the Hotel & Restaurant Association (western India), which consists of national and international hotel chains, met Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray and BJP leader Shaina N C yesterday.  Pic/Atul Kamble

The Hotel & Restaurant Association (Western India), which consists of representatives of national and international hotel chains, met Shiv Sena’s youth leader Aaditya Thackeray and senior BJP leader Shaina NC yesterday at the mayor’s residence in Shivaji Park.

The meeting, held a day after Thackeray got Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to act positively on opening the city to nightlife in select commercial (entertainment) zones in non-residential areas, was significant, as it helped politicians in the ruling party understand problems that dog the hospitality business.

mid-day had reported on the development in a front-page report yesterday. Pradeep Shetty, honorary secretary of the association, told mid-day that the interaction centered on the possibility of making provisions that will ease business, control corruption, increase tourism and cater to the changing lifestyle of the Mumbaikars.

The state government proposes to also implement ‘nightlife zone’ scheme in cities like Pune, which have witnessed changing trends in lifestyles. “Nightlife is not all about keeping restaurants and pubs open throughout the night.

It is more about retaining international tourists who avoid spending time in the city because it has nothing to offer in entertainment. Also, the city utterly disappoints today’s hard-working youth who want to live their lives without creating trouble for others who may not essentially approve of their lifestyle,” said Shetty.

He added that the biggest hurdle was the archaic laws and 140 permissions/permits that any hotelier needs to procure for starting his business. “The laws are very old and encourage corruption. We need to revise them,” he said.

“This is a great development, not only for hoteliers, but also for residents and tourists. Mumbai is the business capital of India. An active nightlife and avenues of entertainment will result in visitors extending their stay by a day or two.

Even transit travellers could end up spending more time and money in this city. Many thanks to all those who have helped us in getting this proposal the much needed voice,” said Bharat Malkani, president, Hotel & Restaurant Association (Western India).

Warming up to the plan
H&RA executive committee member, P S Ghai, said the city needed to get unshackled from multiple licencing. “We have been breaking our heads to make the administration understand this for many years.

We had proposed our nightlife plan (similar to Thackeray’s) a few years ago, but it remained pending for approval,” he said adding that the Shiv Sena-BJP, which were on the same page on this issue, would push for it and implement it successfully.

City police chief Rakesh Maria has already given his nod to the plan and assured his preparedness to tackle any law-and-order situation that may arise due to the new initiative. Thackeray said laws like the Shops and Establishments Act, and Police Act needed to be amended.

“Amendment may happen in either the budget or monsoon sessions of the legislature,” he said. Shaina NC said the concerns raised by hoteliers and restaurateurs would be considered at the state level. “We will ensure that the plan is operational at the earliest. There is no issue of political will as far as this project is concerned,” she said.

The wish list
>> Change archaic laws that encourage corruption, drastically reduce the number of permits/ licences needed to running the business
>> Retain international/ national tourists who avoid the city as a transit point because of lack of entertainment
>> Work to grow the hotel economy, which will subsequently create more jobs and give more revenue to the state 
>> Make the proposal work in a manner which will not harm the interest of peace-loving residents and, at the same time, encourage people to venture out at night

Party all night
>> Hotels, pharmacies, milk shops, cafeterias and malls to remain open 24X7 
>> Plan includes non-residential precincts like Kala Ghoda, Nariman Point, Marine Drive, Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), and Carter Road 
>> Commercial complexes like malls, especially those set up on mill lands, will be designated as special entertainment zones
>> Less expensive joints to be allowed near railways stations and off the highways

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