Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray told reporters the government's decision could help generate more revenue and jobs
Mumbaikars can now enjoy the nightlife as the state cabinet, on January 22, approved a proposal to lift restrictions on retail trading hours in the city. This makes Mumbai the country’s first major metro to implement all-night retail.
The move comes as India in 2019 registered the slowest pace of growth in 11 years. This is aimed at boosting the local economy, consumer spending and job creation in the ‘city that never sleeps’.
Maharashtra Tourism and Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray said he was “hopeful the move would provide jobs and revenue to our youth” in addition to the existing five lakh people working in the service sector.
What is changed?
A notification has been issued for the Maharashtra Shops and Establishment Act, 2017, allowing shops, restaurants, cinema halls, salons, hyper malls and businesses such as banks, medical establishments and tax consultancies, to remain open 24x7 in the state.
As per the previous rule, stores and malls were required to shut at 10 pm while restaurants, pubs and bars by 1.30 am. The new plan envisions malls, shops and eateries in the city’s commercial districts operating 24x7 from January 27 onwards.
The caveat: pubs and bars continue to shut at 1.30 am, Reuters reported.
A major tourist hub, in April 2019 alone 13.06 percent of all 771,353 foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) to the country landed at Mumbai Airport, data from the Ministry of Tourism showed.
Further, the latest edition of ‘Top 100 City Destinations 2019’ by UK-based market research firm Euromonitor placed Mumbai at 14 globally in terms of the number of arrivals.
It recorded arrivals to Mumbai in 2019 at 12,442,400, up from 10,590,100 arrivals in 2018. The city in fact has jumped up significantly from 30th place in 2015.
Further, Thackeray pointed out that Mumbai is a "24x7 functional city". "There are people who work in night shifts. There are tourists, too, in transit. Where do they go if they are hungry after 10 pm?" he asked.
Where in Mumbai?
As per the state government’s plan, in the first phase, malls and restaurants situated in the city’s commercial and non-residential districts such as Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) and Nariman Point would be able to take up the option to extend working hours.
As per reports, stores, eateries and multiplexes within gated communities and compounds with adequate security provisions such as CCTVs would also be eligible.
"In BKC and near NCPA (Nariman Point), a lane will be opened for food trucks. Food inspectors will keep a watch on them. If rules on solid waste management, decibel limits and law and order are violated, there is a provision of a lifetime ban," Thackeray added.
Is it mandatory?
Beyond this, the decision of whether they would like to take up the option after factoring in the extra costs involved, job shifts for employees, etc. rests entirely with outlets’ management. Establishments with fewer than 10 workers will not have to obtain a licence or need to renew their license. Establishments with more than 10 workers will get licences in a time-bound manner.
Thackeray clarified that the move was not mandatory. “Only those who feel they can do good business can keep their establishments open throughout the night," he said.
The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) stated that malls and restaurants associated with it have already expressed interest in the 24x7 plan, as per the Reuters report. The body has been pushing for the move in Mumbai for a few years now.
Thackeray stated that the police force would not be under stress because, after 1.30 am, their job till now was to check if shops and establishments were shut down. "But, now they will be able to focus on law and order only," he said.
Thackeray dismissed concerns that the strategy would result in some law and order issue from town. He pointed out that excise rules have not been touched and pubs and bars will close as usual at 1.30 am.
Labour minister Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar told Hindustan Times that the expectation is for a boost to women-driven businesses.
Establishments keen on extending hours of business will only have to give an online intimation to the ministry, including the number of employees hired. They will have to ensure three shifts of no more than 9 hours each, transportation for women employees post 9.30 pm, and provide overtime, paid leaves, canteen and crèche facilities.Violations leading to serious injury or death of employees may lead to imprisonment of six months or a penalty of up to Rs 5 lakh to the employer. Violations of other duties towards workers may attract a fine up to Rs 2 lakh.
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