Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday convened a meeting with a delegation of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), several ministers and top officials of various departments and directed them to remove the hassles for ease of doing business for the restaurant industry in the national capital.
"On the request of the restaurateurs to allow 24x7 business, it was agreed that the restaurants will be allowed to operate at all hours subject to the condition that they submit an undertaking that they will take care of the health and security of their entire staff," a government statement said.
The government also said that this will help the industry generate more employment in the national capital through increased demand.
"Delhi's restaurants are the pride of the national capital and provide employment to lakhs of people. I have directed all the respective departments to remove unnecessary hassles in the smooth running of restaurants in Delhi," Kejriwal said after the meeting.
Amending archaic excise rules
Decisions were also taken in the meeting to immediately amend archaic excise rules to permit service in open areas, balconies, verandahs etc. without any additional fee, to permit additional dispensing counters in the licensed premises without any additional fee, to permit branding within the licensed premises, to permit licences for all types of music, including DJs, live bands and karaoke, to abolish the requirement of a designated liquor store and to allow the stock to be kept anywhere in the licensed premises.
"It was decided that other relevant suggestions related to amendments in excise regulations will be considered to be included in a new policy currently under preparation, permitting the extension of the operating timings of the restaurants on the weekends till 3 am," said the government statement.
The Chief Minister also instructed that the health trade licences, which are issued to the restaurants by the municipal corporations, should be abolished within 10 days.
Putting forward their cause of concern, the restaurateurs said that the FSSAI, a body operating under the Government of India, already ensures the issuance of food and safety hygiene licences, and the issuance of health trade licences by the local bodies made the task irrelevant.
The CM also reviewed a letter written by the FSSAI addressing the municipal corporations to cease any further issuing of licences and directed the officials to do the same.
The NRAI delegation also requested for the abolishment of the police licences since restaurants are part of the retail sector.
In the meeting, the Excise Department agreed to review the existing policy of a 10 per cent automatic increase in the licence fee every year.
On the request for simplifying fire norms for restaurants situated in old and heritage sites such as Connaught Place, Khan Market etc., it was decided that a technical committee would be constituted which in 10 days will examine ways to enhance fire safety in such locations, without the need to make structural changes to the existing restaurants.
The government said that based on the recommendations of the committee, the CM will decide on the application of uniform fire safety norms in Delhi.
(With inputs from IANS)