Ease of Governance in Delhi: LG's initiatives for 2023

From January 26, entrepreneurs in the city will be able to avail of the "new progressive, business-friendly and liberalized licensing" regime in Delhi.
Representative Image
Representative ImageReuters

NEW DELHI: In a key move that will ease the opening, operating and running of eateries, bars, restaurants, guesthouses and hotels in the national capital, Delhi LG VK Saxena has majorly rationalized and liberalized the licensing process and requirements for such establishments.

In what would come as a New Year gift to the hospitality industry in the city, getting licenses for operating these businesses and augmenting their businesses have been made far more easy.

From January 26, entrepreneurs in the city will be able to avail of the "new progressive, business-friendly and liberalized licensing" regime in Delhi.

An official release said all restaurants and eating houses in five-star and four-star hotels, those within the airport, railway station and ISBT premises will be permitted to operate on a 24X7 basis, after payment of the necessary fee.

In three-star hotels, they will be allowed to operate till 2 am and in all other categories, they will be able to operate till 1 am. Additionally, in five star and four-star hotels, the ceiling of only one restaurant getting a bar license has been lifted.

This will enable five-star and four-star hotels to obtain separate liquor licenses for more than one restaurant or bar serving liquor within the hotel premises on payment of the license fee.

The number of documents required for getting licenses has been drastically reduced and 28 documents will no longer be required to be uploaded while applying.

Instead of the earlier system, where different agencies followed different calendars - financial year or calendar year, all four agencies - MCD, Delhi Police, Delhi Fire Services and DPCC - will now follow the coterminous financial year ending March 31 for the purpose of issuing and validity of licenses and NOCs.

In a common application form, 140 fields have been removed making it user-friendly and the 21-pages form has been reduced to just nine pages. Instead of multiple separate affidavits now, a single common undertaking has been introduced.

In another major relief, instead of the earlier system of grant of licenses for one year, the period has been increased to three years for MCD, Delhi Police and Delhi Fire Service and nine years for DPCC.

In a major move, grant of licenses have been made time-bound, with a deemed approved clause being inserted, that will ensure that the license has been approved and granted if the concerned agency or official does not take any action on the application within the stipulated time frame.

An applicant will be able to get his license within a maximum of 49 days, with minimum human interface, instead of the earlier unlimited time frame that resulted in an applicant running from pillar to post and getting harassed. The average time for the grant of new licenses was three years in Delhi up till now.

As many as 2389 new applications for eating houses from 2022 and 2121 applications from 2021, are pending as of now. Similarly, 359 applications for lodging houses are pending for 2022.

Various industry bodies and restaurant and hotel associations had met the LG and conveyed their concerns and the pain being faced "due to the red tape ridden licensing regime in the city".

As per the rules approved by the LG, applications for banquet halls will not be looked into by Delhi Police and applications for eating establishments on less than 90 sq meters and lodging establishments below 12 meters in height will not be looked into by Delhi Fire Services anymore.

Documents like agency-specific affidavit, liquor license proof, VAT registration, weight and measures license, MCD affidavit, DPCC capital investment affidavit, water bill, electricity bill, registration under shops and establishment Act, affidavit regarding smoking area, location map, DPCC project report, proof of allotment of plot, ESI establishment registration proof, EPF registration proof and music license have been removed from the list of required documents.

While earlier compliance certificates with respect to fire safety, environmental norms, structural and electrical safety and other safety aspects were obtained by Delhi Police before issuing license, such compliances will be looked after by the respective agencies now.

"Actions like suspension/cancellation/revocation/cessation of operations/prosecution on any violation of license/registration certificate/NOC granted under relevant statutes shall be taken by the respective agencies as per their own Acts/rules/regulations, unlike the previous system when Police could look into and act on either of these," the release said.

Instead of the earlier system of physical police verification of character/antecedents of applicants that led to complaints of harassment and corruption, the same has been made completely faceless with online PCCs to be now issued in this regard by the Special Branch of Delhi Police, instead of the local police stations.

In order to minimize frivolous filing of applications multiple times, a processing fee of Rs 1000 will have to be deposited at the time of submission of the online application form for the grant of a fresh license.

"These far-reaching changes, that will give a much-needed boost to 'Night Time Economy', will ensure more employment and economic activity in the city and ensure that the entrepreneurs in Delhi, who are losing business to their counterparts in NCR, due to archaic and restrictive licensing regime in the Capital, retain and augment their clientele and benefit financially," the release said.

It said the LG in November had set up a High Power Committee to ease and facilitate license requirements for restaurants and eateries and directed it to examine the existing regulations and suggest ways of expediting the licensing processes.

After the submission of the report by this Committee, it took several rounds of meetings headed by LG with the Chief Secretary, Police Commissioner, Pr. Secretary (Home), MCD Commissioner, Pr. Secy.

(Environment), DFS and other concerned officers, to finally concretize the liberalized regulations. The same will now be sent to NIC to bring about necessary changes in the new application undertaking and uploading the same on the MHA Licensing Portal.

"This is expected to be done in the next three weeks, and come January 26, entrepreneurs in the city will be able to avail of this new progressive, business-friendly and liberalized licensing regime in Delhi," the release said.

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