Pune Lounge and Bar Association Calls for Revocation of License Suspensions

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Reported by Sumit Singh 

Pune, 23rd May 2024: The Lounge & Bar Association of Pune has expressed serious concerns following the recent crackdown on liquor-licensed establishments in the city. In a letter addressed to District Collector Dr. Suhas Diwase, the association highlighted the adverse impact of recent regulatory actions triggered by a tragic accident in Kalyani Nagar.


The accident, which occurred around 2.30 am on Sunday (May 19), has led to widespread action against the hospitality industry in Pune. In the letter, the association emphasized that the fallout from this single incident has resulted in the demolition of establishments by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), social media outrage, excise filings, and suspension of licenses. They argue that liquor-licensed restaurants are being unfairly targeted and scapegoated.


“Since February 2024, restaurants have already been suffering from stringent police regulations, including police entering premises at 10 PM to shut down music,” the association stated. They noted that this earlier enforcement had already caused significant losses, and the recent accident has exacerbated the situation, further damaging their reputation and financial stability.


In the past two days alone, over 50 liquor-licensed restaurants have had their licenses suspended. The association described this as “gross injustice” that has led to the closure of activities and significant economic repercussions.


The association outlined several key concerns:


1. Loss of Revenue: The suspension of licenses has led to decreased sales, resulting in financial losses for restaurants and reduced GST and VAT collections for the government. This has also impacted their ability to pay rent and staff salaries.


2. Permanent Closures: Approximately 20% of restaurants have been unable to renew their liquor licenses, leading to permanent closures since March 31, 2024.


3. Brand Image: Pune’s reputation as a hub for young professionals and foreign expats is being negatively affected. The suspension of licenses is damaging the city’s social culture and could lead to a significant drop in patronage.


4. Bankruptcy: Many restaurant owners are on the verge of bankruptcy due to the sudden and severe financial strain.


5. Rising Unemployment: The closures and reduced sales are expected to lead to job losses, affecting around 60,000 staff members and their families.


6. Work-Life Imbalance: Restaurants serve as a stress-relief venue for many working professionals, and their closure disrupts the balance between work and relaxation.


7. Investment Loss: Pune’s attractiveness as a destination for business investment is declining. The association fears that software and manufacturing industries might relocate to other states like Telangana and Bengaluru.


The association concluded their letter by urging the district collector to revoke the suspensions and allow the restaurants to continue their operations. They stressed that the current actions are unjustly harming their businesses and the livelihood of many.