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HomeNewsDry days at capital's new eateries amid excise licence wait

Dry days at capital’s new eateries amid excise licence wait

Restaurateurs in Delhi claim serving alcohol is off limits for many new restaurants, pubs and bars in the National Capital.

This is because many restaurants are facing delays in getting Delhi Police eating house licences for running operations, they said. Under the old excise policy, which has been reintroduced after the new one was rolled back, an eating house licence is a prerequisite for obtaining an excise licence.

“We have one new licence pending and a renewal pending,” said Rajneesh Malik, director of Asian cuisine restaurant Sidewok. “While the excise department has granted an extension for existing restaurants till the end of this year, considering the delays, the new outlets are unable to get an excise licence and are not able to serve alcohol.”

Malik said there is a unified portal for applications, and that there may have been a surge of applications after restrictions eased, resulting in a backlog. But “the excise department has… said it would red flag outlets if we don’t get an eating house licence (till the end of this year),” he said. “If there is a backlog, how many files would get processed by that time? Most operators would have applied in April at the start of the new financial year. We can’t understand what is happening.”

OP Mishra, Joint Commissioner of Police for licensing, told ET all restaurant licences are processed through the Union ministry of home affairs portal and that eating house licences are issued “immediately” after the requisite reports come in from the concerned agencies.

“In some cases, we don’t have reports from the fire department or the Delhi Pollution Control Committee and deficiencies for certain documents are raised, while in others, there needs to be a greater scrutiny of the documents. In case of certain issues, we also reach out for clarifications,” said Mishra, pointing out that licences are now granted for three years, against one year earlier.

Sharad Batra, director of Cafe Delhi Heights, said he has all the licences except the eating house licence of Delhi Police. He launched an outlet at the DLF Promenade mall in Delhi in July, but still cannot serve liquor at this outlet and another one in west Delhi, he said.

“All other departments have issued us licences,” said Batra. “Our application for an eating house licence has been pending for almost two and a half months and without that, we cannot proceed for an excise licence. 90% of our other outlets are waiting for renewals too. Prior to Covid, the process was much faster. It would take around 15 days.”

Priyank Sukhija, Delhi chapter head of the National Restaurant Association of India, concurs. He said a lot of members have been unable to obtain eating house licences for over six months and a lot of renewals are pending as well.

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