BBMP distances from mask fine target notice to marshals

Mask fines: BBMP distances itself from daily target notice to marshals

The South zone already has a reputation for catching the highest number of violators per day in the city

The notice specified that BBMP marshals have been allotted a target of booking a minimum of 20 offenders in each Assembly constituency per day in the South zone. Credit: DH Photo

The BBMP has distanced itself from a notification that introduced daily targets for marshals to book those who don’t wear masks and maintain social distancing.

The targets, for marshals in the South zone, were announced in a notice issued by Munish Moudgil, special officer for South zone, on October 25.

The notice specified that “BBMP marshals have been allotted a target of booking a minimum of 20 offenders in each Assembly constituency per day in the South zone”, before adding that the introduction of targets had transpired after marshals failed to achieve “the given daily targets in booking the offenders... in spite of repeated instructions”. 

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BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad suggested that setting targets is not the way to go. “The only way to get more people to wear masks and partake in social distancing is by increasing public awareness. Fines are the last resort,” he said.

The notice also added that any “failure to do at least 20 cases per day per marshal will lead to action on the marshal supervisor, South zone, and division supervisors concerned under the Disaster Management Act 2005 for deliberate failure to take action to control Covid-19, without any further notice”. 

A BBMP official expressed dismay at the wording of the notice and added that enforcement of masks or social distancing could not be done by targeting more people on the streets for the sake of fulfilling a quota. 

“Targets are unsustainable. The primary job of BBMP marshals is to convince members of the public to wear masks. You cannot build a bridge to the community by enacting more punitive measures and by increasing the government’s coffers by fining more and more,” the official said.

Speaking to DH, Moudgil explained that targets could serve as a baseline for registering violations, which could ultimately serve as a deterrent.

“Violations of regulations across all wards are rampant. Outside every restaurant and eatery, people are causing an uproar,” Moudgil said and added that the objective of these targets is not to generate revenue.

“Ideally, I would like to increase the target to 100 violators per marshal per day, which could help bring the scale of violations under control,” he said.

The BBMP commissioner said he would discuss the notice with Moudgil.

Tough task

Another Palike official said fulfilling the target of 20 is no easy matter.

“Catching violators is not a single-person job. It requires a four-man team of marshals. One marshal to actually halt the errant motorist and pull them to the side of the road, the second to stop a violator who may be trying to dodge the checkpoint, the third to actually extract the fine amount from the violator and the fourth to defuse the anger of violators,” he said.

“It cannot be done by a single marshal standing in the streets all day," the official added.