Lakeside rejoices as court rules businesses can stay open 24/7

Bijay Nepal 09 Nov 2023
Lakeside rejoices as court rules businesses can stay open 24/7

POKHARA: Lakeside is an important tourist destination in Nepal, not just in Pokhara. The nighttime economy in this small stretch along the shores of Fewa Lake flourishes due to the influx of foreign tourists. However, the local police administration has been causing issues repeatedly, forcing some businesses to close as early as 10 pm.

The Home Administration Reforms Plan, 2017 states that necessary security arrangements will be made to enable tourist areas like Thamel and Durbar Marg in Kathmandu and Lakeside in Pokhara to operate 24/7. Despite this, tourism entrepreneurs complain that the police administration continues to create problems. While hotels and restaurants are permitted to remain open, other shops in the area face closures by the police.

In response to frequent visits by the police attempting to shut down her liquor store around 9 or 10 pm, Devi Kumari Baral, who operates a liquor store in Lakeside, took legal action. She filed a writ petition at the Pokhara High Court, seeking a court order to allow her business to operate without hindrance.

Following the initial hearing, High Court Judge Rajan Prasad Bhattarai issued an interim order on Wednesday, instructing the administration not to impede businesses from operating within legal hours until a final verdict is reached. The court has also ordered the defendants—the District Administration Office of Kaski, District Police Office of Kaski, and Ward Police Office, Badiam— to furnish a written response within 15 days, explaining why the operations of these businesses must be restricted to 9 or 10 pm.

A separate writ petition by Binaya Padhya, owner of Rice Garden Restaurant and Bar, has resulted in a similar interim order. High Court Judge Milan Kumar Rai on Thursday issued the order preventing the local administration from enforcing the closure of the restaurant until a final verdict is issued.

Tourism entrepreneurs in Pokhara have welcomed the court’s decisions. Pom Narayan Shrestha, president of Pokhara Tourism Council, believes that the final verdict will contribute to making Pokhara the tourism capital of the country. “Our demands have been addressed. We are hopeful that it will make the tourism industry in Pokhara more vibrant,” Shrestha said. “It will disseminate a positive message that tourists won’t have any problem finding accommodation, restaurants, and other services regardless of the time they visit Pokhara.”

Laxman Subedi, president of the Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN) Pokhara, emphasized the need for businesses to ensure that their operations do not disturb others. “If businesses abide by the code of conduct in the operation of their businesses, the court order would help the tourism industry of not only Lakeside but Gandaki Province as a whole,” he added.

However, senior tourism entrepreneur Govinda Raj Pahari expressed reservations about the practicality of operating businesses in Lakeside around the clock. “The decision looks good, and the entrepreneurs are also excited. But it isn’t an easy decision to implement,” he added. “We won’t have any objection if businesses operate by adhering to Nighttime Business Operations guidelines prepared by the District Administration Office.”

Published On: 09 Nov 2023


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