Aamchi Mumbai, a city that never sleeps, is set to officially become an insomniac’s paradise with its shopping malls and eateries keeping their shutters up all night long.
Come January 27, the nightlife in the maximum city will get busier than ever as the Uddhav Thackeray government has given its nod to allow shops, theatres and other establishments in non-residential areas to carry on with their businesses 24x7 -- without a break in three shifts of eight hours each.
But there is no reason for the tipplers to pop the Champagne bottle yet. The government has refrained from amending the existing excise law, which bars the bars from serving liquor to their customers. They will, therefore, have to head home after 1:30 a.m. – the current deadline for the sale of alcohol in the city.
The Brihannmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has already issued fresh guidelines to caution the restaurants and bars against selling alcohol beyond the stipulated time-limit. Any restaurant flouting the rule will lose its permit for two years.
The idea to infuse a fresh lease of life to Mumbai’s nights was first mooted seven years ago by Shiv Sena’s young leader Aaditya Thackeray, now a high-profile cabinet minister in the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government headed by none other than his father, Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Aaditya has apparently taken inspiration from the western countries like the US and UK, where big cities have a vibrant nightlife. London’s nightlife, he says, has an economy worth 5 billion pounds and there is no reason why Mumbai cannot expect similar growth. The 29-year-old leader pointed out that Mumbai is a 24x7 city where scores of people are working in night shifts. Moreover, it has had a steady stream of transit tourists all through the year.
The Opposition, however, is not impressed. A BJP leader has gone to the extent of fearing rise in corruption and rape cases across the city. Others have raised concern over security matters and called it a pro-rich and elitist move.
But the Sena-NCP-Congress government remains optimistic of not only making Mumbai a truly cosmopolitan megapolis, but also generating new employment opportunities through its push for nightlife.
Welcoming the decision, upscale shopping malls in the city have already announced that they will remain open 24x7. Trade experts believe that it will give a fillip to the economy by tapping its immense potential.
Founder of Coffee Culture, Gaurav Narang, for one, says that sticking by its name -- a city that never sleeps – Mumbai will definitely have some innovative ways to engage the customers with implementation of the new law. “The lanes near Bandra-Kurla Complex and Nariman Point will be made available solely for food trucks, which is quite exciting,” he says.
“It will help in boosting employment and also increase night market tourism," he adds,
Narang says he is quite excited to see how Mumbaikars will react to the new development. “Since we are a café and surrounded by other establishments, we are also waiting to see how late night workers will react to it.”
The fate of the ambitious move, experts believe, depends entirely on the response of the people. In the next few weeks, it will be clear whether Mumbai has adequate numbers of nightlife adventurers to make Aaditya Thackeray’s pet project a resounding success.