Karnataka Assembly discusses hookah bar menace, Home Minister assures action
Belagavi: Karnataka Home Minister Dr G. Parameshwara on Tuesday assured the Assembly that he will initiate legal action to regulate hookah bars in the state.
BJP member C.K. Ramamurthy had raised the question and the issue was discussed widely in the session.
Bengaluru has seen a rise in the number of hookah bars, he noted, adding that the state capital has the most number of hookah bars after New Delhi. Fellow BJP member S. Suresh Kumar intervened and stated that hookah bars are banned in 10 states including Punjab, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
The exposure to smoke in hookah bars is extremely dangerous and 200 per cent more toxic than just smoking, he said, calling for the hookah bars to be banned completely.
BJP’s Arvind Bellad stated that in Punjab, people are sending their children of 15 and 16 years outside their state to ensure that they don’t get trapped into addiction. Hookah bars are the stepping stones for the path that leads to drug addiction. They will have to be banned totally, he said.
In response, the Home Minister said that the number of hookah bars has gone up in Bengaluru and other places but the Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is not giving trade licenses.
“The owners of hookah bars are operating after getting permission from the Food Safety Authority of India (FSAI) since 2022. The court had recently permitted the hookah bars. They can operate in commercial spaces where coffee, tea shops and bars are operating,” he said.
There is a provision for police verification in case of violation of rules. But, the state can’t control hookah bars, he added.
Parameshwara noted that there was a fire incident in the Koramangala locality of Bengaluru on October 19 and 19 gas cylinders were kept on the third floor, but fortunately, no loss of life was reported. One person jumped from the building and saved his life, Parameshwara explained.
“We can’t tolerate the hookah bars. Action needs to be taken in the interest of the future of youth. Hence, coordination will be ensured with different departments and separate legislation will be formed in this regard. If the previous BJP government would have banned the hookah bars, there would have been no problem now,” he said.
“According to my opinion, banning hookah bars is not a solution to the problem. They need to be regulated,” he added.
There is no question of compromise when it comes to drugs and hookah bars. The police have been conducting operations against them always, he stated.
Parameshwara also said that in the last four years, 102 cases of violation have been filed against hookah bars.