Mumbai: The Maharashtra government on Wednesday approved the much-anticipated proposal to kickstart 'Mumbai 24x7' from the midnight of January 26-27, cabinet Ministers Anil Deshmukh and Aditya Thackeray announced here.
Addressing a joint press conference, the two ministers said that the programme to let establishments be always open will be implemented in designated malls, mills and multiplexes around the city in consultation with the Mumbai Police and BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation.
"These complexes which have parking, security, CCTVs, licenced establishments, and are away from residential localities will be permitted the option of 24x7 operations," said Aditya Thackeray.
Deshmukh said that besides the mills and malls in south-central Mumbai, places like Bandra Kurla Complex and certain other locations in the maximum city will be included in the first phase.
"As it is Mumbaikars work practically round-the-clock. Then why should the city go under an 'undeclared curfew' after 10 p.m. daily? Until now, 24x7 was available only inside five-star hotels. But this scheme will be of immense benefit to the locals and also tourists," Thackeray said.
He added that Mumbai has a huge service industry employing over half a million people which will get a chance to grow further with a potential to work in three shifts, besides augmenting government revenues.
However, the two ministers made it clear that this will be on a purely voluntary basis and the participating business establishments would reserve the option to keep their outlets open for 18 hours, 24 hours, and on weekends or festivals, as per their requirements.
Thackeray pointed out that Mumbai is a safe city and women can freely move around at any hour without fear, and under the new scheme, people can step out to eat, watch movies, and other forms of entertainment, among others, at any convenient time.
"Why can't you watch a film after midnight, or go out after dark hours? This will also reduce the burden on the police who have to run after establishments which flout the rules rather than going after criminals," he added.
To a question whether such a nightlife would be extended to Pune, Thackeray shot back in a lighter vein: "First we have to implement 'afternoon-life' there."
Initially, Nariman Point, Kala Ghoda, Bandra Kurla Complex, Kamala Mills Compound, certain malls and multiplexes and shopping plazas in non-residential areas are expected to join the new era in Mumbai nightlife.
While the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has slammed the move, hoteliers' associations and other businesses have not only welcomed the decision but have demanded that it should be implemented all over Mumbai since it's a "city that never sleeps".