Kolkata bars, pubs allowed to remain open till 1:00 AM
It will be bottoms up for Puja revellers now with most bars, pubs and nightclubs in the metropolis to remain open beyond midnight till 1:00 AM, as per a recent direction of the West Bengal government.
After more than six months since it barred the establishments from serving liquor beyond midnight, the excise department amended the existing rules to allow liquor to flow for an extra hour, but at a price.
Hotels, restaurants, and bars will have to pay a fee of Rs 10,000 for each such temporary bar licence granted each day, an Excise Department notification said.
According to sources, the step is meant to ramp up the state's exchequer as it is under a heavy debt burden.
West Bengal Finance minister Amit Mitra had earlier said the state had a debt burden of Rs 2,08,382.58 crore as of March 31, 2012. According to the details submitted by the Accountant General, the loan till February, 2012, was Rs 2,05,368.13 crore.
In February, following the Park Street rape case, the state government given the diktat to bars, hotels, discos and restaurants to down shutters by midnight.
Police sources said the state had consulted the department before lifting the ban.
"We told them that the 1:00 AM deadline is fine. Because of a few cases, the city cannot face a lockout. There is no security concern involved," a senior police official said.
When contacted, HHI, which runs the popular 'Underground', and Park, which hosts popular joints like 'SomePlace Else' and 'Tantra', said they have already applied for the license for extended hours and will remain open till 1:00 AM, especially during the Puja days, beginning Saturday.