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Suspension of DBT benefits or Aadhaar option to enforce mask-wearing

By IANS | Mumbai

Published: 28 September, 2020 14:25 IST

Experts have been saying that face masks, hand hygiene and social distancing are the 3 things that will protect citizens from Covid-19

People believe increasing fines on every offence and even suspension of DBT benefits or Aadhaar may be considered to enforce the habit of wearing mask, according to a survey by LocalCircles.

A total of 88 per cent of citizens surveyed in favour of Government making wearing masks mandatory for all when stepping out of home.

Experts have been saying that face masks, hand hygiene and social distancing are the 3 things that will protect citizens from Covid-19. However, to observe what is happening on the ground is different. If you visit any public markets, one can see 2 in 10 not even carrying a mask and another 5 carrying a mask but wearing it on the neck or the chin, LocalCircles said.

The number of Coronavirus cases in India have crossed 6 million and the second wave has already hit some parts of the country. The increasing numbers seem to have been led by the carelessness of many, where they believe that wearing a mask properly while stepping out of their homes or maintaining a safe distance are not necessary.

Although few states have announced a fine if anyone is found without mask in a public place, the small financial penalty doesn't seem enough to deter the offenders. LocalCircles conducted a survey to get citizen pulse on if masks should be mandatory universally for everyone stepping out of home and what should be done to enforce it. The survey received over 15,000 responses from 202 districts of India.

The poll asked citizens what the best way is to enforce mandatory wearing of masks outside home. 17 per cent said penalty and punishment (DBT suspension or Rs 1,000 fine on first offence and 3 months of jail on secnd offence and thereafter), 29% said penalty only (DBT suspension or Rs 1,000 fine on 1st offence and Rs 1,000 fine on 2nd offence and thereafter), while 39 per cent said increasing penalties (Rs 1,000, Rs 5000 and Rs 10,000 fine for 1st, 2nd and 3rd or higher offences). 15 per cent were unsure about it.

Evidently, people believe increasing fines from Rs 1000 on first offence to Rs 5000 on second offence and to Rs 10,000 for third offence and for those who can't pay fines, suspension of DBT benefits or even Aadhaar could be considered to enforce the habit of wearing mask when people step out of homes.

People have also said that technology should somehow be used to identify repeat offenders and fine them heavily, mentioning that identifying offenders based on their Aadhaar could be a logical solution to this. Tracking offences with Aadhaar should not be that difficult as long as the penalty process is digitised. Some citizens even suggested a modification to Aarogya Setu so those issuing challans can do it digitally via the app and the same can be tracked.

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