Nearly two months after the excise department prohibited roof top restaurants from serving liquor, the BMC chief Ajoy Mehta approved the open air terrace restaurant policy clearing decks for permitting restaurants, bars and cafes on rooftops of buildings.
Since there was no policy earlier, the restaurant owners used to take one-day party permits from the excise department. The excise department realised that there was corruption in this procedure as restaurant owners used this oneday permit for weeks together. After a thorough investigation, the department ordered stoppage of one-day party permits to open air restaurants and many of them shut down.
The commissioner has not allowed any construction on terraces. The earlier proposed policy allowed toilets on the rooftop, but this policy does not allow any construction on rooftops apart from wash basins and a platform to serve eatables.
The draft circular which was approved on Wednesday said that the main attraction of the city is the ocean front. Opening restaurants of promenade is not possible, but rooftop restaurants can be considered to provide quality service to locals and tourists.
The BMC has allowed permission to rooftop restaurants in commercial malls or residential hotel buildings. But the policy says that refuge areas can’t be converted into hotels and all such building must have occupation certificate issued by BMC.
Mehta has insisted that the building having rooftop restaurant should have a distance of at least ten metres from the neighbouring building. This was done to ensure that neighbours are not disturbed due to the noise from rooftop
“I have been waiting for this moment for last several years. I am happy that this policy is passed. I can’t find a happier moment than this,” said Vijay Chhabria of Sea Palace. “The policy says that one can’t be allowed to cover in the monsoon, then where will people sit in monsoon?”
A senior excise officer said that they will have to examine the circular before issuing permits.
When the excise department closed down the system of issuing one-day party permits to bars in September, 43 hotels, including a few five-stars, had to shut bars on their terraces after the state excise department found they were using the daily club or temporary party licence, meant for special occasions, functions and festivals, to serve customers right through the year.