At least 70 people have been fined for smoking at public places in Gurgaon in the past two years, while hundred others continue to do so without being penalised.
Despite the ban being effective since 2008, authorities in Gurgaon have fined not more than 32 people in 2013 and 35 in 2014, collecting about Rs. 2,000 in these two years.
Smoking in public is a common sight and various government departments are authorised to fine offenders. However, the rule has not yet been implemented in the city. The state health department has issued 38 challan books for this purpose which sadly have remained largely unused for the past seven years, an RTI response, sought by activist JS Walia, has revealed.
Interestingly, the fine amount for smoking in public places had been fixed at Rs. 200. However, the authorities seem to be lenient with offenders, fining each person just Rs. 30-35 on an average.
A sum of Rs. 1,120 was collected in 2013 from 32 people who were fined. Similarly, Rs. 1,030 was collected from 35 offenders last year.
“The maximum penalty for smoking in public is Rs. 200 and very often people who are caught claim to have no money. Also, in the previous meeting with the district administration, we had asked all other departments to enforce penalties as they are lenient about it,” said Dr Pushpa Bishnoi, civil surgeon, Gurgaon.
Though details were sought from 2008, since when the ban had been enforced, the health department had data only for the years 2013 and 2014.
“I can only assume that there were no fines imposed for five years from 2008 to 2012,” said JS Walia, who filed the RTI. “It is surprising that while so many authorities are roped in to tackle the menace by a simple fine, one can still see people openly smoking. This, despite the worsening air pollution scenario of Delhi NCR,” she added.