Excise dept turning a deaf ear to license renewal: Bar owners

Bhubaneswar: A day after two dance bars were raided and sealed on charges of operating without license in the capital city, the Odisha Bar and Restaurant Association on Sunday blamed the State Excise Department for non-renewal of licenses.

Satya Mohanty, secretary of the association, said after the Orissa High Court’s order, the Commissionerate Police had granted license for operation to five dance bars in 2015-16, but with one-year-validity.

“We moved to renew our license on multiple occasions in 2017, but the excise department did not listen to us. Later, police ordered to ensure an NOC on fire safety and we did it. Many other aspects like security, safety and dignity of bar girls, their identification and willingness for the job were also reviewed regularly but even after fulfilling all parameters, our licenses were not renewed,” alleged Mohanty.

He further said, “At district level the process of renewal should take a few days but if we are intentionally prohibited from the getting our license renewed, what can we do. The latest police raids on bars have pushed the livelihood of the hundreds of staffs here into uncertainty.”

“It is being said that dancing in bar is immoral but we have never faced any such situation which harmed our dignity. In fact, we work with full willingness and respect. If the government wants to shut down dance bars, it must give us other forms of employment,” said a bar dancer.

On August 18, Commissionerate Police raided and sealed two dance bars operating without license in the city and rescued 10 girls.