Is Mumbai On Course To Officially Becoming The City That Never Sleeps?

Is Mumbai On Course To Officially Becoming The City That Never Sleeps?
Mumbai Boss

It had been a long time coming for the youth of this city. They braved riots and terror attacks, threats by moral police and sometimes even actual police as well as exploitative and archaic laws, but the nightlife Mumbai yearns for is finally here.

Or at least, that’s what the news is implying.

Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria has cleared the proposal to allow restaurants and pubs in the city to remain open all night except for those situated in residential areas. It was then cleared in late January and is said to have been the biggest hurdle in getting the freedom of a vibrant nightlife back to the youngsters of the city.

In another strange twist of fate, it’s interesting to note that the idea was actually first put forward by Shiv Sena leader Aditya Thackerary, in  September 2013, a party once infamous for its strong moral policing and violent attacks on the youth.

Back to the present however, the proposal was first cleared by the BMC and awaited clearance from the Police as law and order issues were perceived to be the biggest concern with the proposal.

While another proposal for letting malls be open 24x7 was shot down by the Commissioner, Aditya Thackerary has even made a proposition for Special Entertainment Zones which could include malls and shop establishments.

Homegrown had already pointed out how the SEZs could revamp Mumbai’s entertainment and culture life while working on a youth manifesto prior to the 2014 elections.

”We want the government to earmark certain areas as SEZs where restaurants, shops, convenience stores and other establishments can remain open through the night. These zones will be in non-residential areas” said Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant. Shiv Sena is likely to meet  Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to put this proposal forth as well.

The hotel and bar owners are obviously stoked. Bharat Malkani, President of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India, has thanked the Mumbai Police Commissioner for his support. He believes that this sends out a bold and welcoming message to foreigners visiting the city and give a boost to tourism and hospitality.

Sohail Arora, founder the artist and booking agency Krunk, and well known event-organizer within the alternative culture space too “is happy for the artists and DJs. The possibility of bigger and longer events would help the food and beverage industry, artists and others amass greater revenues. However, i’d prefer to have a wait and watch approach to the developments as such false promises were made before as well,” he admits, re-inforcing a widespread concern most people who stand to achieve a lot through this proposal, have.

Additionally, he also mentioned concerns about the implementation of the new proposal, whether it would be free from bureaucracy and corruption or act as a means of further harassment to event organisers, venues etc. from the cops.

Joining him in concerns (albeit, differing ones) are Subhash Motwani, member of the Clean Heritage Colaba Residents Association, who sees the move as creating a nuisance for parking. Colaba causeway along with Linking Road, is one of the areas that has been covered under the proposal for 24x7 restaurant and pubs.

He also feels that this will allow ‘shady bars’ to remain open all night and create nuisance. Former Mumbai Police Commissioner is against the proposal as well as he believes that many parents in society “are against the nightlife culture where children stay out all night and spend money extravagantly.” He also sees the move as a deterrent in the campaign to curb drunk driving due to the Mumbai Police’s insufficient manpower.

All in all, it’s evident that even though the mere possibility of such a future is sending waves of jubilation through the city’s youth, those that actually stand to receive further commercial validation and potential through the passing of this law are (rightfully) skeptical both about its actual passing as well as its implementation.

The truth is, while we’re always on the side of heightened cultural playground and progressive laws, given the several shoddy implementations of such rhetoric in the past--it’s probably fair to feel a bit wary too.

If the proposal does get passed, we hope it’s with tact, and replete with a strong framework and resources to uphold its implementation in the safest, most lucrative manner for all members of society. Difficult in a country as pluralistic in India, but that’s what healthy debate is for. What are your nocturnal desires for Mumbai’s future then?

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