Mumbai: Cracking the whip against people who don't wear face masks in public and refuse to pay the fine, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has warned that they will have to sweep the city roads as a punishment.
In the past two days (Thursday-Friday), over a hundred persons caught without face masks who refused or were unable to shell out the Rs 200 fine, were handed brooms or mops and made to sweep or clean up stretches of roads in the city.
Interestingly, the stringent action came even as the BMC announced on Friday that in 212 days, it had collected a whopping Rs 3,49,34,800 since April, including Rs 18,21,400 only in October.
Despite repeated appeals by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Health Minister Rajesh Tope and other leaders, many Mumbaikars apparently failed to heed the warning and can be still seen driving or moving around in public without a face masks or not wearing the face mask properly, covering the nose and mouth.
Hoping to rein in the growing menace, this week, BMC Commissioner I.S. Chahal set a target of registering at least 20,000 cases against violators daily by civic teams.
"The state government and the BMC have been repeatedly requesting people to wear face masks, but many are not adhering to the new protocols, some refuse to pay fines and others are unable to pay up. So, we make the errant citizens do a clean-up job on the roads in the vicinity as a deterrent," said a BMC official.
The simple - but embarrassing - punishments are handed out as per the BMC's Solid Waste Management Department's bye-laws that empowers the civic body to ask people to do community services for offences like littering, urinating or spitting on roads.
BMC teams have now fanned out all over Mumbai to keep a vigil on those flouting the rules, especially in crowded areas like markets or vicinity of railway stations.
While some people apologise for their mistake when caught and even volunteer to render any community service given to them, some others resort to abuse or threatening the civic officials, said Assistant Municipal Commissioner Vishwas Mote.
However, the BMC's latest effort to enforce wearing of masks has found takers on the social media with many giving 'thumbs up' to the move in the larger public interest.