South, west districts worst mask offenders in Delhi
Amid a fresh surge in coronavirus disease cases, an analysis of Delhi Police’s data shows that south and west police districts are the worst in maintaining mask discipline with the maximum number of violations -- highlighting the difficulty in enforcing Covid-19 guidelines.
According to data (updated until October 27) seen by HT, at least 47,795 people were fined for not wearing masks in the police’s south district that spreads from Ambedkar Nagar and Kalkaji to South Campus near Moti Bagh. Until two months ago, south district -- which also includes areas such as Defence Colony, Lodhi Colony, Greater Kailash, RK Puram -- did not figure in the top or even the second in the list of violators.
In west Delhi, which stood second after south with 40,556 violations, Rajouri Garden police station reported the maximum number of people without masks. 5,123 people were prosecuted in Rajouri Garden.
The maximum number of violations two months ago (data up to August 27) 22,136, were reported from Outer Delhi district, which includes places such as Mangolpuri, Aman Vihar, Sultanpuri and Kanjhawala. The west district was number 2 on the list then too with 16,772 people fined. The police data had then suggested that citizens in south Delhi were much better at following the mask rule compared to other districts.
Earlier this month, a report prepared by the National Control for Disease Control (NCDC) had cautioned that the Capital needs to gear up to tackle a surge of up to 15,000 cases per day during winter and in the festival season.
In the backdrop of daily cases crossing the 5,000-mark, Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain on Friday reiterated the importance of wearing masks. He said everyone should consider wearing a mask as a vaccine for Covid-19 for now. On Friday, 5,891 new positive cases were reported in Delhi, according to the government’s health bulletin.
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The latest police data seen by HT shows that in south Delhi, the Kotla Mubarakpur police station registered the highest number of violations at 4,335, followed by CR Park with 4,192.
A senior police officer, who did not wish to be named, said, “Every district DCP has been assigned the task of identifying a different area each day in each police station, where police have to strictly enforce the mask rule. It could be outside a temple, a mosque or at a market area.”
Kotla Mubarakpur police station includes areas such as the South Extension markets, Ring Road, Sewa Nagar and Kidwai Nagar. Police said their focus in the festive season will be markets. They will also fine shopkeepers who allow shoppers inside without masks.
The local MLA from Kasturba Nagar, Madan Lal, said he will launch a special drive to ensure residents adhere to the rule.“It is good the police are active and issuing challans to those not wearing masks or violating guidelines. The Delhi government has been creating awareness and appealed to people to always wear masks.”
A police officer from the west district said their focus will be on markets such as Rajouri Garden, Tilak Nagar and Jankapuri, where people have started coming out for festive shopping. Police data shows West Delhi continuously featured among the top three districts with most violators.
“We have started making public announcements in markets. People must wear mask at all times,” said a mid-level police officer from west Delhi.
Dhanwati Chandela, MLA from Rajouri Garden, said, “ We are carrying out campaigns to raise awareness. The number must be high because many people from outside come to eateries here and flout rules.”
An on-the-spot fine of Rs 500 is imposed for not wearing a mask, under a rule passed by the government in June.
A drive to penalise those moving about in public spaces without masks was launched on June 14. Until October 27, Delhi Police fined 432,049 people for not wearing masks and collected at least Rs 21.60 crore in fines.
Dr Puneet Mishra, professor of community medicine, AIIMS, said cases could reduce drastically if everyone adheres to the mask rule and ensure social distancing.
“Festival or no festival, people should always wear masks in this pandemic. The problem in Delhi is most people think only those with comorbidities or age-related illnesses may catch it. People are letting their guard down. Wearing mask is a proven measure. But let me add that the rise in number of the cases is also because the government has started conducting a large number of RTPCR tests now.”
According to the state government’s health bulletin, a total of 17,058 RTPCR tests were conducted on Friday.