Picture this. At the toll post located where one gets an entry to the famous Sinhagad Fort, officials stop a car. A group of boys driving the car are asked if they are carrying liquor with them. When the boys say no, their car is checked. The officials aren’t surprised when they find them with five beer cans.
The boys are asked to pose with their cans along with the officials cutting a receipt of the fine charged — Rs 100 per person.
Thereafter, the youngsters are taken on the other side of the road and asked to empty their beer cans.
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The photograph is later developed and becomes a part of the album that was launched by the Forest Conservation Committee more than a year ago under an initiative that aims to work as a deterrent to stop visitors from carrying liquor to the fort.
“We started this initiative with a few aims. Firstly, it works as a warning for those who are caught. Secondly, the photograph works as a proof that gives details such as how many people were caught and the fine charged. Besides, there are a few people who try to get into arm-twisting boasting they have ‘contacts’. The photograph is the proof that we are doing our duty and have fined them for a right reason. Also, a person photographed once would be embarrassed to do break the rule again,” says Prabhakar Kad, Round Forest Officer and the secretary of Forest Conservation Committee.
Since January 2014 till August 2015, nearly Rs 65,000 in fines has been collected.
Kad said that though there was a big notice board just before the entrance, people ignored it thinking they could get away with it.
“Earlier, the fort painted a sorry picture with beer cans and liquor bottles lying all over. Hence, we decided we must do something that will dissuade people from indulging in such activities and spoil glory of the fort. Also, once one person is charged a fine, he is bound to spread the word among friends and other acquaintances and others too get to know about the rule,” Kad said.
While the amount to be charged as fine is same for both liquor and cigarette, Kad said that around 60 per cent of visitors fined were those who are caught with liquor. Those who are found with cigarettes are asked to destroy their cigarettes before entering the fort and are also charged Rs 100 as fine per person.
“However, when a visitor at the toll post is questioned if he is carrying liquor or cigarette and he confesses he does, he is only asked to destroy the item before entering the fort. They are not charged any fine. We only charge those who lie and try to fool us,” says Nitin Gole, an official working at the toll post.