Tuesday, January 19, 2010

BOOZE AND LAW MIX WELL HERE

BOOZE AND LAW MIX WELL HERE
Can there be a greater irony than this? The BDA complex in Indiranagar, home to as many as four zonal offices of the excise department, turns into an out-and-out watering hole at night. Talk of the law being blind to what is going on in its own backyard
M K ASHOKA


It’s a well-known commercial complex in the heart of the city. Well, at least by day. After dusk, it transmogrifies into a drive-in bar. As if that’s not shocking enough, the open-air tippling takes place under the very nose of the excise department which has its offices in the BDA complex at Indiranagar. Yes, the same department that is supposed to monitor and crack down on the illegal sale and consumption of liquor! The offices of the inspectors of excise, Mahadevpura, White Field, Fraser Town and K R Puram, are located in the complex. But the officers and their staff have apparently not woken up to what is going on in their own backyard. According to sources, the blatant flouting of the ban on public consumption of liquor has been going on here for the past ten years.
The sprawling compound of the building is the perfect setting for the young set that drives in after dusk, intent on boozing the night away. And establishments in the complex are in on the ‘action’. The sole licensed wine shop in the building does roaring business selling liquor to its drive-in clients, in violation of its licensing terms, while the half-dozen eateries also wink at the law and serve liquor. Not to forget the cops, who must find the place a ‘hafta’ heaven. In fact, the Bangalore Mirror team took a swig from a bottle while a Hoysala patrol team looked on indulgently! All this nocturnal jollity is, needless to say, not shared by residents of the area, who steer clear of the building at night.
Maneesh, who has been coming here for the past three years, rates the place high on his list of favourite hang-outs. Taking us for fellow bon vivants, he said enthusiastically, “The ambience is so good, it beats going to pubs. If you are in a group, this is the best place to chill out. I recommend it to everyone who wants to unwind at night.” As an afterthought, he added soberly, “But they will have to be careful with their girlfriends.”
Then, of course, there are those on the fringes who make a living out of the swish set’s leftovers. Rag pickers can look forward to a haul of anything like 1,000 empty liquor bottles on weekends. One of the tribe, Ramesh, said every bottle fetches around Rs 3.
When we brought this ‘complex’ story to the notice of excise commissioner Yogendra Tripathi, he claimed to be totally in the dark about it. “I will get my officers to look into the matter,” he said.

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