'BBMP didn't follow norms while shutting down hookah bars'

'BBMP didn't follow norms while shutting  down hookah bars'
Amid furore in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike council on Monday over the reopening of hookah bars, BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad clarified that the bars were opened because procedures were not followed while closing them. Recently, BBMP’s standing committee on health had raided 16 hookah bars and shut them as they violated licence conditions. Later, the seals were broken and the bars started operating again.

Raising the matter in the BBMP council, Devarjeevanahalli corporator S Sampath Kumar said schoolchildren were spotted in these hookah bars. These outlets were given licences to run cafes or restaurants but hookah bars operated illegally. He sought to know who allowed them to reopen. When Palike’s east zone joint commissioner Dr K C Yathish Kumar was summoned, he said he did not give permission to open them. Mayor G Padmavathi too expressed her dismay over reopening of the hookah bars.

“It is a serious issue. When nobody gave permission, how were these outlets opened afresh?” questioned Padmavathi. Clarifying on this issue, Commissioner Prasad said the officers had served notices and shut them without waiting for thier responses. “After serving notices, enough time should have been given to these hookah bar owners to respond. This procedure was not followed. The owners can get a stay in the court,” said Prasad.

He added that the Palike will close these outlets once their response comes and final orders are passed. Prasad informed the council that there are over 400 hookah bars in the city and these 16 hookah bars have been saying that only they were targeted and not the others. BBMP’s joint commissioner of health Sarfaraz Khan said the Palike will take an undertaking from these restaurants. If violations continue, they will be closed, he added.
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