Amid the Covid pandemic, residents of Pune district have paid upto Rs 18 crore in cash penalties for not wearing facemasks in public since June 2020. This is when the fine for not wearing a mask is much lower than in cities like Delhi, where it has been hiked to Rs 2,000 for each violation.
So far, police and city officials have caught about 5 lakh individuals – an average of 2,750 individuals per day – for not wearing masks. In the municipal corporation jurisdiction of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, the fine for not wearing a mask is Rs 500. In rural areas, it varied between Rs 100-500, with police, municipal councils and gram panchayats deciding the amount locally.
Data from by the Pune district administration shows that of the total 5.03 lakh violators, most come from rural parts of the district. Of the total, 2.32 lakh violators are from the rural jurisdiction, 2.04 lakh are from Pune city (the number includes a small proportion, about two per cent, of those penalised by spitting in public) and 66,566 violators are Pimpri-Chinchwad areas.
After the first few months of stringent lockdown, as residents were allowed to come out of their homes without requiring movement passes, the local administration in Pune had brought out orders for respective jurisdiction, mandating the use of facemasks in public places.
In rural areas of the district, where most violators were caught and penalised, the police played the most active role. Of the total 2.32 lakh violators, 1.68 were caught by police, while 49,000 and 13,922 were nabbed and penalised by gram panchayat and municipal staffers.
“In rural areas, action is being taken by police, municipal and GP officials. Although the fine amount is lower than what is charged in the city, the act of catching and penalising a violator has increased compliance and has helped bring down the number of Covid cases in the rural areas,” said Ayush Prasad, Chief Executive Officer, Pune Zilla Parishad.
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