April 4, 2021 4:36:03 am
THE GUJARAT Police collected a total of Rs 161.66 crore in fine from 28.24 lakh offenders for not wearing face masks/covers and spitting in public places amid the coronavirus pandemic between May 30 last year and April 1 this year across 33 districts of the state with Ahmedabad city accounting for the lion’s share — Rs 36 crore — of the total amount collected.
From May 30 to December 5 last year, the state police collected Rs 93.56 crore in fine from over 21.4 lakh persons across the state for violating the mask rule and spitting in public, reports accessed by The Sunday Express showed. Until September 27 last year, a total of 17.39 lakh people had been fined to the tune of Rs 53.70 crore for the two violations.
Gaurav Jasani, Superintendent of Police and PRO to the state Director General of Police, said: “The high mask violation fine collected by the Gujarat Police has been due to the strict implementation of a government advisory as per the situation of coronavirus pandemic in the state. The drive will see further intensification if the Covid-19 cases surge.”
Notifications issued by the state government on May 30 last year and the state health department on June 15, 2020, stated that fine will be collected from citizens for not wearing masks in public places. The orders also directed the Gujarat Police to ensure the guidelines are followed. Earlier, municipal corporations were tasked with issuing challan to offenders. The fine for the violations ranged from Rs 200 to Rs 1,000 in the four metropolitan cities and districts of Gujarat.
In Ahmedabad city, a total number of 4.84 lakh people were booked for the violations and Rs 36 crore collected in fine between May 30 last year and March 15 this year. Recently, the local police rolled out a drive to provide free masks to citizens instead of issuing challans.
“The zone 6 police division, which includes Isanpur, Maninagar, Vatva, Vatva GIDC, Danilimda, Kagdapith and Narol police stations, have undertaken a drive for the past two weeks to distribute masks among commuters instead of issuing challan if they are seen without one in public. The drive will be replicated by other police zones as well,” an official of Ahmedabad city police control room said.
Ahmedabad city was followed by Vadodara city, where the local police collected a total of Rs 9.48 crore in fine from 1,26,044 offenders since March last year. So far, the Vadodara city police has distributed around 1 lakh masks free-of-charge among the people in coordination with the Vadodara Municipal Corporation and some non-governmental organisations.
The Surat city police, meanwhile, registered 2,28,405 instances of mask violation and collected Rs 12.60 lakh as a penalty.
The Rajkot city police booked around 2.5 lakh persons for not wearing masks and spitting in public in the corresponding period. Of them, around one lakh people were caught by policemen on the field while the rest were issued e-memos after they were spotted flouting the Covid-19 norms on the CCTV surveillance network.
“The cumulative fine collection has been around 45 per cent. In cases where people were caught on the spot, the realisation has been 100 per cent, whereas it is around 27 per cent in cases of e-memos. The idea, however, is not to collect fines but to encourage Covid-19 compliant behaviour,” Manoj Agrawal, the commissioner of Rajkot city police said.
In Rajkot, a fine of Rs 1000 was initially imposed on people not wearing face masks, but the amount was later reduced to Rs 500. For spitting, the fine was Rs 200 initially, which was subsequently increased to Rs 500.
Over 2.5 lakh arrested
More than 2.5 lakh people were arrested and around 1.91 lakh FIRs were lodged for violation of curfew notification, unlawful assembly, and under the Epidemic Diseases Act and Disaster Management Act over the last year, the Gujarat Police said.
Ahmedabad accounted for a maximum of 47,253 FIRs for such violations, while 56,500 persons were arrested during the period.
“Among the 56,500 people arrested, a maximum of 32,530 were held under the Epidemic Diseases Act, and 17,465 under IPC section 188 for violation of night curfew orders. Additionally, a total of 75,492 vehicles were also detained under the Motor Vehicles Act for curfew violation,” a statement issued by the Ahmedabad police control room read.
In Surat, a total of 32,930 FIRs were lodged and 41,172 people arrested over the last year for similar offences.
(With inputs from Aditi Raja, Gopal Kateshiya and Kamaal Saiyed)
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