After Mumbai, it is Lucknow that is bracing up for a nightlife that has almost been non-existent till now. The Uttar Pradesh Excise Department has now allowed restaurants and bars to serve liquor up to 2 am. Starred hotels can serve liquor up to 4 am.
Sanjay Bhoosreddy, principal secretary, excise, said that the decision has been taken with a view to promote tourism in the state. The change in the excise policy, however, is restricted to only big cities.
"We are now giving bars the option of serving liquor till 2 am and to hotels, up to 4 am, but on certain conditions.
Firstly, the option is only open to bars located in metro cities like Lucknow, Agra, Moradabad, Kanpur etc, apart from Noida and Greater Noida.
For all bars located in these areas, time can be extended up to 2 am. Three, four and five-star hotels can open bars up to 4 am," he said.
With special permission of the district magistrate and additional fees, the hours of serving liquor under a temporary bar license can also be extended by one hour, from midnight to 1 am.
Bars to pay additional Rs 2.5 lakh for time extension
According to the new excise policy, bars will have to pay an additional Rs 2.5 lakh in license fees for the time extension.
The excise policy has also allowed for an increase in areas in which liquor can be served in hotels.
Service time in bars was 12 am earlier and could be extended till 1 am on payment of additional fees.
From the existing limit of five spots, areas for serving liquor can be added on the payment of Rs 50,000 for each additional point.
License for serving liquor available in special trains, cruises & airports
The excise department will also be giving licenses for serving liquor available in special trains, cruises and airports with a special focus on foreign tourists, at such locations.
While a train liquor license will cost Rs 10 lakh annually, it will be Rs 3 lakh for a cruise and Rs 5 lakh for airport bars.
However, the Liquor Traders' Association of UP is not very happy with the government's refusal to allow them to open retail shops from 9 am to 11 pm, against the current time of 10 am to 10 pm.
KL Maurya, secretary of the association, said, "The rules are not friendly for retail shops. There has been an increase in license fees but no increase in the maximum retail price of liquor.
Timings have also not been extended for retail shops even though hotels are being allowed to serve for longer."
The common people also feel that the extension of hours of serving liquor would affect the law and order situation.
"If liquor is served in trains and airports, who will be responsible for ensuring the law and order situation?"
"All-night bars are a good idea only when you have an adequate police force on the roads," said PK Misra, a retired government employee.