Food by VICE

Urban Planning Accidentally Banned Alcohol Throughout This Entire City

More than 700 bars, pubs, hotels, and establishments selling alcohol in the city have been forced to go dry or close down.

by Gigen Mammoser
Jul 9 2017, 2:00pm

Photo by Flickr user 

Post-drink cocktails are the fuel that keeps the hamsters on the hamster wheel through the general ennui of the mind-numbing work week. There is a reason, after all, that "Happy Hour" is when most of the public is finished with their work days. But workers in one Indian city can no longer get their daily stress-relieving tonic when they clock out.

Workers in Bengaluru, the "silicon valley" of India, can't really get get a drink any time really—or at least it's been very difficult since an alcohol ban went into place throughout India on July 1.

The ban states that selling alcohol within 500 meters near major roadways is illegal throughout the country. The law was intended to curb drunk driving, particularly along highways, where drivers move at higher speed limits, increasing the likelihood of harm for themselves and others on the road.

However, an unintended consequence of the law is that in some major metropolitan areas alcohol has become nearly banned entirely—solely because of urban planning.

Bengaluru, the worst affected, is crisscrossed with six highways, and alcohol sales near any of them is illegal, making the city effectively a dry one. In one particularly busy area of the city, along Mahatma Gandhi Road, a major highway, there are some 140 now-shuttered bars.

Since June 30, over 700 bars, pubs, hotels, and establishments selling alcohol in the city have been forced to go dry, or in many cases close altogether, and thousands of workers have lost their jobs.

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Business owners have been frantic. Some with the resources to stay open have, for now, attempted to hold onto business by selling food and coffee.

The estimated revenue loss for the tourism and service industry across India is estimated in the billions, CNN reports. Those losses will be far more acute in Bengaluru.

After an outcry from local business owners and national advisors, India's Supreme Court is now trying to come up with a solution that will appease city-dwellers while still keeping highways safe. The court is currently mulling a proposition that would declassify highways within cities, which would allow pub and bar owners to continue doing business while still enforcing the regulation on major highways between cities.

Many are optimistic that the ban will be repealed or modified shortly.