As the COVID-19 situation in the city gets grimmer with a rapidly rising number of cases, voluntary compliance to safety protocol remains the best defence against the deadly infection. Despite this, the BMC, Mumbai Police and volunteers at the railways stations have collected Rs 44.49 crore till March 20 from over 22.06 lakh people who did not wear masks.
The Mumbai civic body on March 20 collected a total fine of Rs 42.84 lakh in a single day from 21,420 violators who were caught without face masks in public spaces.
From making masks mandatory to restricting crowds and large gatherings, the BMC has beefed up surveillance and enforcement measures to contain the virus spread. However, the number of offenders that increased is now seen stagnated and hovering between 21,000 and 22,000.
Till February 22, 2021, a total of Rs 33.06 crore had been collected from 16.35 lakh violators penalised by BMC, police and marshals at various railway stations. The fine amount has increased to Rs 44.49 crore in just 26 days.
"This shows how citizens are neglecting their own safety and even putting others at risk. If we impose a harsher penalty, people criticise us, if reduce the fine amount people still criticise us. However, they fail to understand that only COVID appropriate behaviour is their best defence against COVID-19. We have been appealing to the citizen about the same time and again," said Suresh Kakani, Additional BMC Commissioner (Health).
According to an action taken report (ATR) shared by the civic body on Sunday, on March 20, 2021, around 14,142 people were penalised by the BMC clean up marshals and an amount of Rs 28,28,400 was collected, another 6,789 violators were penalised by Mumbai police and a total fine of Rs 13,57,800 was collected. Meanwhile, a total of Rs 97,809 was collected from 489 violators that were caught on various railway stations.
This points out that despite the BMC’s appeals and warnings to follow 'Covid Appropriate Behaviour’ amid rising COVID-19 cases in the city, the number of people caught not wearing a mask in public places have stagnated instead of declining.
As per the BMC data from April 20, 2020 to March 20, 2021, the highest number of 1,60,188 people were caught without face masks in Mumbai's K-West ward which comprises Juhu, Andheri (West), Versova, followed by 1,18,205 violators caught in K (east) ward (Andheri East, Jogeshwari, Vile parle). Whereas the lowest number of violators - 31,766 were caught in the M-East ward, which comprises Deonar, Anushakti Nagar, Shivaji Nagar.
Meanwhile, Zone 2 of Mumbai which comprises of F (north) ward (Matunga, Sion), F (south) ward, G north (Dharavi, Mahim, Dadar), G (south) ward (Prabhadevi, Worli, Lower Parel) has the highest number of violators (3.55 lakh) among all seven zones. The civic body collected Rs 7.14 crore from Zones 2 alone till March 20, 2021. Whereas Zone 5 comprises of 'N' ward (Ghatkopar, Vikhroli west), 'S 'ward (Bhandup, Kanjurmarg, Powai) and T ward (Mulund, Nahur) has the lowest number of violators (2.25 lakh). The BMC has so far collected Rs 4.52 crore from zone 5.