If the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) gets its way, citizens will find themselves forking out ₹1,000 as way of fines for not wearing masks and failing to cover their mouth and nose in public. At present, citizens have to pay ₹200, but the civic body has proposed that the State government increase the amount.
BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad, while holding a videoconference on Saturday said the question of fines was raised at a recent meeting with the Chief Secretary.
“The decision has to be taken at the government level,” Mr. Prasad said, while reiterating that wearing masks and keeping a distance from others in public spaces was the most effective way of reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
In the first week of May, when masks were made mandatory in the city, a notification was issued by the then civic chief saying that people not wearing masks would be fined ₹1,000 for the first violation and ₹2,000 for subsequent violations.
However, the notification was revised after a few days and the fine amount was brought down to ₹200 from ₹1,000.
Public outrage was one of the reasons for the revision. Many people told The Hindu after the meeting that such a huge fine would be counterproductive, and would encourage corruption. Some civic officials also held a similar view. “Most people don’t carry ₹1,000 on them,” said a resident.
N.S. Mukunda, founder-chairman of the Citizen Action Forum, agreed that there was a need to fine people more heavily. He argued against a five-fold increase of the existing penalty. “A ₹300 to ₹400 fine, backed up with a continuous and sustained awareness campaign will yield results,” he said.