More on Corruption

Corruption is the single biggest hurdle to doing business in Mumbai, but exactly how much do restaurants and shops have to cough up as bribes to stay in business?

A team of Mid-Day reporters visited a number of beer bars to find out.

According to a 2005 study by Transparency International India, only Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh are less crooked than Maharashtra. Yet, corruption pervades every aspect of our lives, and nobody endures it more than the average Mumbai businessman.

Beer bar owners are among the softest targets for depraved netas, babus, cops and thugs.

Mid Day visited six, between Fort and Nerul, and found bribes and hafta strip away between 12 and 30 per cent of monthly profits. Excise department officials were the worse offenders across the board, with BMC officials and policemen not far behind.

Permit room, Ballard Pier

Here’s what the owner of a Fort beer bar said he had to fork up every month to crooked government officials, policemen and thugs

‘Provident Fund officials demanded Rs 10,000’

The Provident Fund people came to my hotel and asked for the list of employees. We usually have 14 or 15 people on record — the rest are temporary staff. I told them we don’t include some people on the record as they work for a short time and quit.

But the officials wouldn’t listen. They demanded Rs 10,000. When I refused, they started harassing me about old records and accused me of cheating my employees. They finally settled for Rs 5,000.

Others: Rs 1,058
BMC: Rs 646
Excise dept: Rs 5,000

Monthly profit: Rs 50,400
Monthly bribes: Rs 6,704

Every day, Mumbai businesses are squeezed dry by politicians, municipal officials, policemen and two-bit thugs, in an appalling cycle of corruption that we take for granted.

Mid Day decided to visit a number of beer bars — notoriously easy targets for the corrupt — to find out how much they have to pay in bribes and hafta each month just to stay in business. Here’s what we found

Restaurant and bar, Bandra

Excise dept: Rs 17,000
Senior officer: Rs 5,000
Junior officer: Rs 2,000
Food and drinks: Rs 10,000
BMC: Rs 7,418
Eating house license: Rs 417
Food and drinks: Rs 4,000
Grading: Rs 417 pm
Shop and establishment registration charges: Rs 417
Food & sampling authorities: Rs 167
Drain cleaning: Rs 2,000
Sales Tax dept: Rs 10,083
Income Tax dept: Rs 12,167
Others: Rs 7,449
• Police, RTO: Rs 3,000
• Provident Fund dept: Rs 333
• Food and drug authority: Rs 167
• Local thugs: Rs 833
• Renovation: Rs 833 (if once a year)
• Electricity, water: Rs 1,033
• Insurance: Rs 167
• Labour: Rs 250
• Health permit: Rs 833

‘Excise official harassed me for not visiting him’

An excise officer once came to my bar at night and started asking customers for their liquor licences. Those who didn’t have one were thrown out. When I asked why the surprise check, he said, “I have been here for two months and you haven’t come to see me once. How dare you!”

Monthly profit
Rs 2.4 lakh

Monthly bribes
Rs 54,117

Permit room, Santacruz

Excise dept: Rs 7,200
Local thugs: Rs 1,660
BMC: Rs 1,212
Eating house license: Rs 330
Grading: Rs 416
Registration charges: Rs 166
Drain cleaning: Rs 300
Others: Rs 1,213
Sales Tax department: Rs 835
Income Tax department: Rs 250
Provident Fund department: Rs 83
Food and Drug Authority: Rs 45
Police: Rs 1,000
Rs 500 to extend deadline,
Rs 500 to allow parking outside

‘Cop abused me in public’

One day, a sub-inspector from the local police station came to my hotel on a dry day and saw an empty beer bottle lying on a corner table. I told him that I had not sold beer that day and that one of the waiters, while cleaning a table, had put the bottle there by mistake.

He started abusing me and told me to step out of the hotel. He sat in his jeep and abused me in front of everyone, as I didn’t offer him money to go away. Later, I went to the senior inspector and told him about the incident. Since then the sub-inspector has stopped harassing me.

Monthly profit
Rs 30,000

Monthly bribes
Rs 12,285

Family restaurant and permit room, Nerul

Excise dept: Rs 6,200
Local thugs: Rs 1,000
BMC: Rs 557
• Eating house license: Rs 416
• Shop and establishment registration charges: Rs 100
• Food sampling authorities: Rs 41
Others: Rs 1,157
• Police: Rs 200
• Food and Drug Authority: Rs 41
• Sales Tax department: Rs 333
• Provident Fund department: Rs 167
• Income Tax department: Rs 416

‘They demanded Rs 2,000 extra’

The police once visited my bar while I was out. My employees refused to bribe them and asked them to wait. They left, furious, and returned with four hawaldars, whom they posted at the entrance to stop people from entering the bar, while they ate inside. They didn’t pay a thing,
and demanded Rs 2,000 more than the regular bribe, warning me not to let this happen again.

Monthly profit
Rs 60,000

Monthly bribes
Rs 8,914

Permit Room, Eastern Express Highway

• Excise dept: Rs 6,950
• Chief excise officer: Rs 2,500
• Maharashtra flying squad: Rs 700
• Konkan Flying Squad: 750
• Inspectors: Rs 2,000
• Drinks: Rs 1,000
• TMC: Rs 2,449
• Eating house/health license: Rs 83
• Grading: Rs 83
• Shop and Establishment of registration charges: Rs 83
• Drain cleaning: Rs 200
• Food, Drug Licence Dept: Rs 2,000
Others: Rs 2,167
• Police: Rs 833
• Sales Tax department: Rs 417
• Provident Fund department: Rs 167
• Income Tax department: Rs 500
• Local thugs: Rs 250

‘Excise official beat up my waiter’

Last month, an excise official visited my bar with three friends. They ran up a bill of Rs 8,000. When asked to pay, the official refused, and threatened the waiter. He said he would cancel my licence. He didn’t stop there, and started to beat up the waiter. We had to call the cops. When the intervened, the official finally agreed to pay up.

This is not a rare occurrence — my employees are regularly manhandled by drunken officials. Most time we have no choice but to let them go without paying.

Monthly profit
Rs 45,600

Monthly bribes
Rs 11,566

Permit Room, chembur

• Excise dept: Rs 10,750
• State flying squad: Rs 6000
• CST flying squad and other inspectors: Rs 4,500
• Licence renewal: Rs 250
Sales Tax dept: Rs 2,917
BMC: Rs 833
• Eating house license/health license: Rs 416
• Grading: Rs 167
• Shop and establishment registration charges: Rs 250
Others: Rs 616
• Police: Rs 450
• Provident Fund dept: Rs 166

‘Slapped false charges on me’

Whenever a new official comes to the area he tries to show his power by increasing the bribe amount.

Once, I refused to pay the hiked rate to a new officer. He slapped false charges on me, accusing me of running a prostitution racket. In the end I had to pay him. But since then they have let me run my restaurant well past the 1.30 am deadline.

Monthly profit
Rs 45,000

Monthly bribes
Rs 15,116

21,068* – The total amount, in crores of rupees, lost to petty corruption across the country in 2005.

* These include 11 services: Schools, police, land admin, judiciary, electricity, govt hospitals, RFI (farmers), municipal services, I-T (individuals), PDS (ratio card/supplies), water supply

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