Hookah bars seem to have cropped up across the city despite the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike council members opposing the move. Now, just a week after the City Crime Branch raided and shut down hookah bars near Bull Temple Road, Minerva Circle and adjoining areas, councillors have asked for all of them to be shut down, alleging that many of them are serving underage patrons, TOI reported.
The BBMP councillors questioned the civic administrators and demanded to know who had issued permission to these establishments, as the Palike is not supposed to issue licenses to hookah bars.
DJ Halli Congress Corporator R Sampath Raj said that councilors had received complaints from several welfare association across various area regarding hookah bars serving underage patrons and demanded that they be shut down, TOI reported.
BBMPâ€™s Commissioner for Health and Solid Waste Management, Sarfaraz Khan, said that running hookah bars was illegal. He also said that these bars would be fined amounts ranging from Rs. 1 to 2 lakh and that the Palike would frame a policy to address the issue, the reports says.
BBMP joint commissioner (east zone) Yatish Kumar said that there were 400 hookah bars in the city and the Palike had collected Rs 16.5 lakh fines from the raids. He categorically stated that the BBMP had not granted permission for any of the hookah bars and that the agency would investigate how they cropped up, the report adds.
Corporators from Chandra Layout near Nagarbhavi in west Bengaluru said that there were cases of people availing of licences to open coffee shops, but were running hookah bars instead.
The Women and Narcotic Wing of the City Crime Branch, Bengaluru police, raided three illegal hookah bars in the city on the eve of January 24 and arrested 16 people, including the owners and staff, who were later released on bail.
The police had then claimed that they were operating in the vicinity of colleges and were allowing minors to visit their premises.
The raids had found more than 50 under-age students at these three bars. The police had informed their parents.
Different teams of the CCB had raided the bars at Minerva Circle, Krishna Nagar Industrial Area and Bull Temple Road. Hookah bars were raided two years ago before the incident. The police had also said that they would be raiding more hookah bars in coordination with the BBMP.