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Allahabad High court directs drone surveillance to check violation of social distancing and mask norms

PUBLISHED ON NOV 25, 2020 11:18 PM IST

Ghaziabad:

The Allahabad high court on Tuesday directed that all crowded places should be manned with the help of drones 24 hours a day to identify instances and places where people are not wearing masks and are not adhering to social distancing norms in view of the rising Covid-19 cases.

The surveillance activity will be taken up in the districts of Lucknow, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Kanpur, Gautam Budh Nagar and Prayagraj, the court said.

A bench of Justice Siddhartha Varma and Justice Ajit Kumar gave the directions while hearing a petition on the ‘Inhuman Condition at Quarantine Centres And for Providing Better Treatment to Corona Positive.’

Giving directions to Prayagraj Police, the court directed, “The court is of the view that vigilance vis-a-vis wearing of masks should continue for at least 30 more days. On the next date fixed, the learned additional advocate general may also inform regarding the surveillance that would be done by drones. This surveillance should be done by the available drones in crowded areas on a 24 x 7 basis.”

It directed, “The learned additional advocate general to see that surveillance is done vis-a-vis wearing of masks in the districts of Lucknow, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Kanpur and Gautam Budh Nagar where there is a great upsurge in the spread of the Covid-19 infection. This surveillance should be done on the same pattern as it is being done in Allahabad (sic).”

Enforcement against those not wearing face masks needs a major boost in Ghaziabad as the city police, according to official records, could penalise only 487 persons in the first 23 days of November for violations.

In contrast, the records show the police penalised 2,353 persons in October, 5,779 in September, 11,410 in August and the highest, 20,936, in the month of July, besides 17,917 in June and 2,131 in May.

“We are conducting regular drives and will step up the activity further. The court’s directions will be complied with. We have 2-3 drones and more can be hired for surveillance,” said Kalanidhi Naithani, senior superintendent of police, Ghaziabad.

According to state control room records of November 25, Ghaziabad district had a total of 22,008 cases while the neighbouring Gautam Budh Nagar district had a tally of 21,801 cases with both emerging at the third and fourth spots, respectively, in terms of highest number of active cases in Uttar Pradesh.

After the directions, the Ghaziabad district administration on Wednesday directed officials to rope deploy drones for surveillance.

“We have ordered deployment of 10 drones in the first phase and they will be placed at locations where people gather in large numbers, such as markets and other public places. A close watch will be maintained on people flouting social distancing or not wearing masks. For the purpose, we have directed a separate wing at our control room where the drone activity will be displayed on screen,” Ajay Shankar Pandey, district magistrate, said.

The district magistrate has also assigned a nodal officer to keep track of drone surveillance.

“The records of drone surveillance will be preserved. I have directed that responsibility will be fixed on local SHOs and traders’ associations if there is violation of norms in public places or markets,” Pandey said.

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