Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Coffee bars not on BMP menu

Coffee bars not on BMP menu
Cites Encroachment, Closes Outdoor Outlets
The Times of India

Bangalore: Are young coffee addicts suffering from withdrawal symptoms? With the BMP closing down their fave outdoor coffee bars, the young and bubbly are going to miss that cuppa over a chat session. Barista on MG Road and Cafe Coffee Day outlets are out.

BMP DC (East) Jayaram said about the closure: “The outlets are occupying setback area. It is an encroachment. The open-air facility is also not in line with the original building plan.’’

But why the drive all of a sudden? Jayaram said: “We are carrying out a massive drive against encroachments all over the city and as part of that larger drive, we took action against these outlets.”

Though another official echoed Jayaram’s words, he, however, acknowledged that the action was sudden. “It is true they have been operating all these years. But we had to do it as part of a larger drive. Chikungunya is also spreading because other outlets are causing problems. So, we had to act in totality.”

Said Jayaram: “We don’t take into consideration factors such as popularity of the outlets or revenue loss or gain while acting against encroachments. We are executing a uniform policy against all open-air outlets that occupy the setback area.’’

The BMP has been strict against other encroachments too. It has taken action against a bakery in Koramangala, a fish outlet on Hosur main road and is set to act against outlets in Cole’s Park. One official said: “We are receiving complaints from Koramangala residents. Many residential buildings are turning commercial there. We have to act against them too.”

Barista CEO Partha Datta Gupta said the action would definitely hurt the coffee chain. “But we will work within the ambit of law. We are in talks with authorities to see how best we can understand the by-laws and what we can do to get the outlet going again. We would like to restore it, but only after consultation with authorities.”

A Cafe Coffee Day spokesperson said the chain is also in talks with authorities on definitions of temporary and permanent structures. “We will definitely comply with the law and we are examining the relevant clauses. We are hopeful of restoring the unit with new landscaping in 15 to 20 days.”

Rahul, a coffee lover in the city, captures the spirit of the bars: “Bangalore may have just a few outdoor cafes to chill out but they give the city an international feel. Good capuccino in vintage Bangalore evening weather is what we want, not legalities.’’


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