The protesters laid down flowers and candles in front of Monkey Bar’s doors and mourned the loss of employment.

After Monkey Bar shuts down employees and bar owners lament future of Bengalurus pubs
news Employment Monday, November 25, 2019 - 15:04

Bengaluru’s iconic Monkey Bar shut its doors on Monday and over 200 employees of various bars and restaurants formed a human chain outside the outlet in Indiranagar to demand justice. Employees of Monkey Bar, DJs, local musicians and former employees of other bars that were shut down in Indiranagar all showed up outside the venue in a show of solidarity.

The protesters laid down flowers and candles in front of Monkey Bar’s doors and mourned the loss of employment.

Speaking to TNM, Pravesh Pandey, owner of popular brewery Big Brewsky, said that over 2,500 employees have lost their jobs in Bengaluru over the last few months as they were not able to procure a public entertainment license.

Ever since the Bengaluru Police made it mandatory for bars and restaurants to procure an entertainment license, a number of establishments in Indiranagar have shut down. This license is necessary if establishments want to play either live or recorded music. Popular watering holes including Monkey Bar, BFlat, BTDT and Humming Tree have shut down over the last few months as their business model was dependent on being able to play live and pre-recorded music.

“Around 2% of Bengaluru’s population is employed in bars and restaurants. The current scenario is such that restaurants and bars are not doing well. These employees gathered here to demand justice as they are unable to get jobs. The demand is to find amicable solutions so that people don’t lose more jobs and there is ease of doing business as well,” Pravesh Pandey said.

Protestors were holding placards that read “give us our jobs back,” “open the restaurants,” “we want jobs.” However, they dispersed after 30 minutes to avoid causing inconvenience to commuters and residents of the area.

Why are restaurants and bars shutting down?

Most of the bars and restaurants have shut down as they were not able to procure an Occupational Certificate, which is mandatory for being able to procure the entertainment license. A few months ago, the Bengaluru police began enforcing rules laid down under Licensing and Controlling Places of Public Entertainment (Bangalore City) Order, 2005, which requires establishments to get licenses for entertainment programmes. From 2018, the Bengaluru police asked all pubs and restaurants in the city to submit a variety of documents to procure an entertainment license, after the Supreme Court upheld the licensing rules.

However, most of Bengaluru's core areas have violated building bye-laws in one way or another. The biggest problem for these commercial establishments is that their buildings were earlier low rise residential buildings. These residential buildings have been converted into commercial spaces. However, the problem lies in the fact that most of these structures have not given set-backs or followed fire safety norms.

Since the structures are completely different from the original building plans approved by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike and have violated the zonal regulations and building bye-laws, these building owners were unable to procure an OC.

The BBMP itself has estimated that 85% of buildings in the core areas of Bengaluru do not have an OC. The Vikas Soudha and the BBMP Head Office’s Annexe 3 buildings too don’t have OCs. It was due to the massive scale of illegal constructions that the Karnataka government had proposed to normalise them under the Akrama Sakarama scheme. Since the issue of Akrama Sakarama is sub-judice, no action has been taken yet. Restaurant and bar owners say that imposing such rules for a license is problematic to local businesses.

The impact

“There are so many people who have lost jobs. We are not finding jobs in restaurants as most of them are on the verge of shutting down because of the entertainment license. We want to comply with all the laws but they should also ensure that it does not affect livelihoods,” said Gopinath, a protestor, who works with Azure Hospitality.

Speaking to TNM, Sunil Shetty, one of the owners of BFlat, says that if the government does not find a solution, then many more restaurants and bars would eventually shut down. The Karnataka High Court, on November 21, had directed the Bengaluru Police and the BBMP to make a list of all the restaurants and bars that would shut down due to the entertainment license.

“Some of the most popular restaurants and bars will shut down. We appeal to the officials and only ask that we arrive at some sort of consensus so that so many people’s livelihoods are not affected. We want ease of doing business,” he said. 



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