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Govt wants to extend Bangalore nightlife, cops wary

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BANGALORE: The city may stop going to bed early. The state government is open to the idea of extending the 11pm deadline for nightlife to 1am.

The government plans to seek the opinion of all stakeholders and different sections of society before taking a decision. Asked about the government’s stance, chief minister Siddaramaiah said the government is seriously considering the proposal. “Many people have asked me to extend this deadline. Eminent people from the IT sector, like Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and TV Mohandas Pai, also met me about this issue.”

Asked whether he’d set a timeline for implementing it, he declined to comment.

But it’s unlikely that champagne may flow beyond Cinderella hours, for police are firmly opposed to extending the deadline for bars. They want the extension to apply to eateries, but not to pubs and bars.

“I was informally told about the government’s deliberations to extend the deadline for bars and restaurants from 11pm to 1am. However, I haven’t received any official word. If the government decides to go ahead with an extension, it’s a policy matter, and it’ll be followed. But when the opinion of the city police commissioner is sought, I’ll express my reservations,” police commissioner Raghavendra H Auradkar told TOI.

“I’ll be happy to look at such a proposal if it comes to me,” he added.

Elaborating on the police position, Auradkar said over the past few years, the crime rate in Bangalore has come down. “If you look at crime at night, drunken brawls, including those leading to murder, are rampant. My force, already understaffed and overburdened, may have to deal with more such incidents, and the crime rate will go back to what it was earlier,” he explained.

Asked how cities like Mumbai and Chennai are managing late deadlines, he said: “We don’t have a police force as big as the ones in Mumbai or Chennai. Mumbai police officials did not want to extend their deadline on New Year’s eve fearing an increase in crime.”

Home minister KJ George admitted there’s both demand for and opposition to the proposal. “We will convene a meeting of all departments concerned, like the police, tourism and excise, and other stakeholders to discuss it. We’ll also convene a meeting of representatives from a cross-section of society, including media and resident welfare associations, to elicit their opinions. Based on the outcome, a decision will be taken.”

Times View

Extending the nightlife deadline in Bangalore has gotten reduced to a heated debate on keeping pubs and restaurants open till longer than the current 11.30pm cutoff. But that’s just one part of the story. Allowing all kinds of business establishments to stay open longer is a better argument as that puts more feet on the streets and makes the city safer than when only those looking for a late-night meal and drink are out. It also means that many other supplementary services like public transport have to also extend their timings. The authorities can start this experiment in the Central Business District and, based on the response, extend it to commercial centres of other areas.

Source: Times of India

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