Citizens demand relaxing mask compulsion in private vehicles
A week after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) expunged the fine for not wearing masks inside private vehicles, similar demand is gathering steam in Pune.
The Anti-Helmet Compulsion Action Committee (AHCAC) which has members from various political parties and social activists, on Wednesday, issued a joint statement addressing the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) commissioner Vikram Kumar, urging him to stop collecting fines from people for not wearing masks in private vehicles.
Last week, the BMC announced that passengers and driver riding a private vehicle will not have the compulsion of wearing masks inside.
The AHCAC statement highlighted the decision taken by BMC in Mumbai.
“In PMC region, a fine of ₹500 is still being collected from those not wearing masks in four-wheelers. The Pune Municipal Commissioner should take a decision to stop this,” stated the AHCAC in its statement.
NCP spokesperson Ankush Kakade, BJP leader Sandeep Khardekar, and RTI activist Vivek Velankar are among members of the AHCAC.
Pune police commissioner Amitabh Gupta stated he doesn’t have an objection in not fining travellers in private vehicles for not wearing mask.
According to Gupta, it’s up to the PMC commissioner to take a call.
“I have had consultation with the municipal commissioner this afternoon. I have clarified that I do not have any objection regarding this decision. It’s up to the PMC to decide now,” said Gupta.
Citizens have in the recent past complained about the fines being collected from them for not wearing masks in private vehicles. Some have also said that a fine has been imposed if the mask was slipped below the nose.
PMC chief Kumar said that the decision is under consideration.
While BMC proceeded with the decision, PMC officials said the relaxation is still under consideration.
“We have not taken such a decision yet. We are thinking about it. We will surely let you know if we decide something,” said Kumar.
Many demanded that the enforcement of this fine has become a draconian exercise.
“I had to pay ₹500 fine near agricultural college signal when I was traveling in my car with my driver. I was wearing a mask but it had dropped down below my nose. I had not realized it. Police stopped us and demanded to pay the fine which I paid. This does not make any sense. Wearing a mask is necessary but why such unnecessary harassment while traveling by a private vehicle?” asked Pandurang Kulkarni, a resident of Kothrud.
There are also incidents of corruption in this process.
“A passenger in my car was fined but then he gave ₹200 and was let off,” said Chetan Karote, a driver in a private transportation service in the city.