The sound of drumming reverberated around Delhi’s trendy Hauz Khas Village Wednesday afternoon as restaurant owners in sunglasses danced in the ancient lanes in celebration at the news they could open the doors to their shuttered eateries.
For the past four days the village’s bustling nightlife has been on hold after dozens of restaurants in the area were forced to close because they didn’t have the proper environmental permits.
A national judge ruling on the case Wednesday said that 26 restaurants could reopen their kitchens having provided evidence that they are building the required wastewater treatment systems. They now have four weeks to meet the requirements.
“I was so happy. I called my staff right away. They were waiting,” said Randeep Bajaj, owner of Amour, a European restaurant in the village. “If I had known about the permit I would have got it right away. We are not in the business of opening a business just to shut it down.”
Within minutes of the judge’s reprieve his popular rooftop eatery known for its wine list was reopened and three women were scouring the menu for a late lunch.
Restaurant owners estimated they had each lost between 500,000 and 1,500,000 rupees, between about $8,000 and $24,000 in revenue during the shutdown.
Mr. Bajaj was one of many smartly-dressed men crowding the small courtroom of the National Green Tribunal Wednesday, awaiting the judge’s verdict on his business.
Justice P. Jyothimani presiding over the government judicial system which rules on cases involving environmental law, said that the 12 restaurants that will remain closed were either already permanently shutdown or had failed to submit the requisite plans. The full list is below.
Any other restaurants that weren’t named must close until they can prove they are also working in accordance with the law, the judge said.
Sandeep Mishra, the member secretary of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee in charge of issuing the emissions permits, told the judge there are approximately 20,000 restaurants in Delhi.
Mr. Mishra told India Real Time that he estimated that DPCC has only issued permits to about 250 of them.
“But I don’t have the exact number,” he said.
The DPCC official also explained in court that he has a staff of approximately 27 inspectors on the ground whose priorities lie in regulating industries with the biggest polluting potential such as 5-star hotels.
Justice Jyothimani ordered that several government agencies form a committee specifically in charge of enforcing pollution laws on the ground.
Pankaj Sharma, who brought the Hauz Khas issue to the Tribunal, said he was happywith the judge’s decisions.
“The order is a progressive step in right direction,” Mr. Sharma said in a statement Wednesday, adding that it would set a precedent for the whole of India.
The next hearing is scheduled for October 30.
Restaurants that can reopen but have one month to build wastewater treatment plants:
2. Diva Piccola
4. Garage Inc.
5. Out of the Box
8. Food Mill
9. Asia Kitchen
11. Fork You
16. Fat Ninja
17. He Said She Said
18. Pizzeria Rossa
19. Golconda Bowl
20. The Pink Room
22. Yeti – Himalayan Kitchen
24. Elf Cafe
26. Mia Bella
Restaurants that are either closed for good or failed to respond to pollution officials:
1. Capri Villaggio
2. 1970s Café
3. Ziro Cafe
4. Iron Curtain
5. The Sky Café
7. The Grey Garden
8. TLR Café
9. The Rose
11. 21 Tango
12. Azure Cafe
The National Green Tribunal ordered that any restaurant that is not mentioned and does not have the required permit, must also close.