Here's news that would bring smiles on the faces of revellers in Silicon City of Bangalore. After months of petitions and media campaigns, the night life is set to return to Namma Bengaluru (Our Bangalore).
The Excise Department has now proposed to push the deadline for pubs and bars in the city from 11.30 pm to 1 am, which is a relief of sorts for hardcore party animals.
The proposal has triggered a big debate on whether Bangalore is ready to party once again. Seventeen years ago the deadline in the city was 10.30 pm; then it was extended to 11.30 pm. But despite several requests the deadline was not extended further due to security problems cited by the police.
There are contradictory views to this, but a larger section of people term it as a welcome move.
Take for instance the case of Kishore and Radhika, a couple who work together at an IT firm in Bangalore. Their work ends at 10 pm and by the time they get into the city, it is almost 11, which rules out the option of hanging out at a pub. The new move to extend the deadline will bring back the name -- Pub City -- which Bangalore once enjoyed.
Undoubtedly, there are a large number of pubs in the city, but the flavour was lost thanks to the 11.30 deadline, they say.
Shruti Mishra, a final year B.Com student, says, "Friday nights were like any other night. By the time one beats the traffic and reaches a pub, it would be late. Then the constant reminders from waiters that we needed to wind up early only ended up making the night a damp squib."
Shruti's mother, Nandini, however, does not share the same view. She feels that extending the deadlines would only will increase the trouble.
"First and foremost, we cannot sleep until our daughter returns home. Moreover, every day we hear about the increase in the crime rate in Bangalore and this only adds to the misery."
The police too are not a happy lot. This would mean that they have to keep tabs on the streets of Bangalore till as late as 1 am in the morning. Police department officials, however, say that they are ready for the challenge and that they would be as strict as ever.
Drunken driving will not be tolerated and there shall be no relaxation of the rules, they say.
The city police already have enough headaches with operational terror modules and monitoring of the BPO vehicles, which zoom across the streets almost 24 hours. Officials say that once the bars had closed at 11.30 pm, the streets were almost empty and definitely peaceful. Now till at least 2 am in the morning, there is going to be chaos on the roads.
Meanwhile, pub and bar owners say they will ensure that no rules are broken.
"We were making heavy loss when we had to close shop at 11.30 pm. The licensing fee went up to Rs 7 lakh from Rs 3.4 lakh last year. We protested at first, but later we were assured that the loss would be compensated by extending the deadline, which did not happen at all," says Ramesh Murthy, a bar owner.
Apparently, the move to extend the deadlines was initially proposed by the tourism department, which felt that a large number of tourists had been coming into the city besides foreign delegates attached to a number of IT firms.
However, Bangaloreans will have to wait a while before the rule is implemented. The same is just at a proposal stage and the government is yet to take a final call on it. Officials say that the new rule could either be changed during the forthcoming budget or else one would have to wait until the new government is formed.