Mask violations: Penalty collection falls over 50% in Bengaluru | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: Penalties levied by Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) marshals against those violating Covid-19 safety rules of wearing masks and maintaining social distancing have drastically gone down.
Marshals had collected a total Rs 4.2 crore — at an average of Rs 1.4 crore per month — in penalties from violators of the two rules in the last three months of 2020, but fines levied under the head during the first 28 days of January this year were just about Rs 82 lakh.

The dip in fines collected for mask violation in January is over 50% compared to the Rs 175 lakh collected in December last year. Marshals attribute the dip to people being more aware of the dangers of the virus. They claim people are wearing masks to keep the virus at bay.
Mask violations are rampant in west zone where 1,174 people coughed up Rs 29,100 in fines on January 28 alone. An average 40 people are fined on a daily basis in Gandhinagar, Mahalakshmipura, Malleshwaram, and Rajajijanagar areas of West zone.
Dasarahalli zone has recorded the lowest mask violations, but BBMP officials say it is not due to people complying with the rules, but because they cannot pay up.
Colonel Rajbhir Singh, who heads the BBMP’s team of marshals, admitted that in some parts of the city, it is very challenging to recover fines as violators either belong to economically weaker sections and therefore cannot pay or violators just do not comply with rules.
“Sometimes, it is very difficult to fight with people, so we just let them go,” Singh said. “People think marshals are keen on penalising them, but little do they know that we have been set targets and that we have to achieve them.”
Fines collected from people violating social distancing norms too have dipped sharply. As against Rs 4 lakh collected as fines under this head in December, the collection till January 28 was less than Rs 2 lakh.
In January, Rajarajeshwari Nagar zone had the highest number of people violating social distancing norms, especially in and around Pattanagere area.
“The locality is densely populated with homes built cheek-by-jowl and people hardly wear masks or follow social distancing,” a marshal said. “When people see marshals, they pull their masks up or at least maintain social distancing, but in RR Nagar there is no such fear.”
Naveen Raj Singh, special officer heading the Covid-19 taskforce, says levying penalties for violating social distancing norms does not go down well with people, especially since the government relaxed restrictions.
“The government has eased everything and people are freely moving around. Penalising them would not be right,” Raj Singh told TOI. “The number of penalties levied against mask violators has also come down because people are being responsible and masks have become a fashion statement.”
He said the government has made it clear that marshals or police officials are under no pressure to collect penalties.


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Sagar Biswas

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