Are People of Mumbai Giving a Thumbs up to the New 24x7 Policy?
Considered to be a pet project of Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray, it hasn’t got off to a flying start just yet.
Video editor: Veeru Krishan Mohan
Since 27 January, several restaurants and malls in Mumbai are permitted to stay open all night, but is the city giving a thumbs up or a thumbs down to its new 24x7 policy?
Considered to be a pet project of Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray, the policy wasn’t well-received on weekdays. Post midnight on Friday, 1 February, we visited a mall in Worli, Aaditya’s Assembly constituency, to find out if the weekend was going to be any different.
Yay or Nay?
Musician Rupin Pahwa is optimistic about the move, “Mumbai is such a superactive city, so if it’s open 24x7, you get more opportunities to eat, chill, have fun with your friends. I think it’s a great move. You’re talking about an extra eight to ten hours that are not being utilised. People are awake. I think millennials, we don’t sleep on time. Nobody sleeps at 12. We all sleep at 4 or 5 am in the morning. If businesses can utilise that time, stay open, run their businesses, provide entertainment, why not?”
But not everyone shares his optimism. Businesswoman Navkiran Hundal, who had come to watch a late-night movie at the mall, argues, “When you are working in the night shift, you have to pay them double, you have to take care of their pickup and drop and eventually, you will be able to make that payment only if you are earning that much.”
Restaurants Open Longer
Though most other stores in the mall were shut, several of the restaurants were open till later in the night.
Talli Turmeric had a board outside the door advertising that it would be staying open till 4 am. Mansij Vaidya, the owner of the restaurant, told us, “We’ll be open till 4 o’clock on Fridays and Saturdays. We are curious to see what the feedback is. I think it’ll definitely drive a lot of footfall, but it’ll take time to generate that. I definitely feel there is a market, people in Mumbai who want to dine or go out after 1:30 or 2 am. As of now, there are not many options open.”
“Right now, if you see, the shops are shut and even if they are open, you won’t see that much of clientele coming at night. So, it’s a good thing that the government is trying but I don’t think it is going to help.”Navkiran Hundal, businesswoman
Chandrakant Shinde, a cab driver who had parked his vehicle outside Atria in the hope for passengers, was disappointed that there weren’t too many people visiting the mall. He tells us, “From the 27th, places were supposed to be open all night, but most of them aren’t. It’s not close to how it is during regular market hours.”
He adds, “If the places stay open, it’s good for the public. Good for us cab drivers as well. If more people go out at night, that means more passengers for us!”
The Hope for More Jobs
Can a growing night-time economy provide more jobs to the youth, especially in these times of high unemployment?
Prathamesh Gaekwad, a staff worker at the mall in his early twenties, says, “A lot of people are unemployed. It will be good for them if they get work at night.”
Ashok Chawla, who owns an apparel store at the mall, is also positive, albeit cautious, “Employment will increase as a result of this policy. Even I am planning to employ two salespersons at night. Taking it slowly though, let us see the response we get.”
Chawla adds, “Last week, we had stayed open till late. We got a very good response, especially on Saturday. We were here till 2:30 am and customers were walking in late into the night.”
One Change About Mumbai 24x7 You Would Like to See?
Ashok Chawla, who owns an apparel store in the mall, has a request to the bigger stores. “If all the big anchor stores that are there in the malls stay open, it will be much better. Reliance Trends and Big Bazaar are shut, they should stay open. Decathlon is here in our mall as well. If stores like these stay open till late, that will generate more business and more footfalls for everyone.”
But restaurant owner Mansij Vaidya has a different request. Currently, pubs, bars and liquor shops have to follow a 1:30 am deadline, since the all-night permission does not apply to serving alcohol. His hope?
“Let alcohol be there 24x7 as well!”Mansij Vaidya, Restaurant owner
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