Firhad Hakim, mayor of Kolkata, on Friday said the licence of all hookah bars in the city would be cancelled and no new licences would be issued for hookah bars in the area under the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.
Hakim said the move was prompted by multiple complaints of drug consumption in hookah bars.
“We have received many complaints about hookah bars. We have heard that in some hookah bars drugs are used. Our young generation is getting addicted to hookah bars,” Hakim said on Friday.
There are several hookah bars in the city that run with or without a licence, sources in the police said.
A senior officer said police had raided several hookah bars following specific information about violation of rules and arrested employees and guests under Section 12 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act 2003.
However, there are several bars and restaurants that offer their guests hookahs, apparently with a licence from the KMC.
The mayor said on Friday: “We will not give any new licence to hookah bars. We will cancel the licences that were given earlier. We will issue a notification saying that existing licences stand cancelled.”
There is no provision of a separate licence for a hookah bar. The KMC mentions in the bar or restaurant licence of an establishment that it is allowed to offer hookah to its patrons, said an official of the civic body.
“There was never any separate licence for a hookah bar. It was part of the licence for a restaurant or a bar. There are around 15 such bars that have been allowed to function as hookah bars. We will issue a notification to cancel the licences,” an official of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation said after the mayor made the announcement.
“We will request the owners of the hookah bars to shut down the bars,” the official said.
When asked what would be done if the owners of the hookah bars ignored the KMC’s order, Hakim said the civic authorities would take help from police.
Joint commissioner (headquarters) Subhankar Sinha Sarkar told The Telegraph: “We will act according to the law.”
Sources at Lalbazar said the police would wait for the formal notification from the Kolkata Municipal Corporation to ban hookah bars and would assist the civic authorities if they sought help.