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Pune district officials come hard on those flouting COVID-19 rules

Christian volunteer Sagai Nair (R) and volunteers from a Muslim group carry the coffin of a COVID-19 victim for burial during a funeral at a cemetery in Pune on Monday.  

In a bid to curb the alarming spread of the virus in Pune’s rural areas, the district administration and the police are cracking down on citizens flouting anti-COVID-19 regulations by not wearing masks or adhering to other precautionary measures.

The administration has already collected more than ₹1.13 crore in fines from nearly 40,000 violators in a week’s time, Pune Zilla Parishad chief executive officer (CEO) Ayush Prasad said.

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), too, has started taking offenders to task with the Pune City police collecting ₹25 lakh in fines from more than 5,000 people in just three days.

“At a time when cases are surging drastically, it is vital that people behave in a more responsible manner. We have penalised around 40,000 people from more than 1,400 gram panchayats, who were found moving about without wearing protective gear like face masks, or were caught spitting and not following social distancing norms,” Mr. Prasad said.

The fines were collected by the police and gram panchayat officials with Haveli and Indapur leading the offenders’ list among the 13 taluks in the district.

“Fines totalling ₹22 lakh from nearly 8,000 residents of Haveli and around ₹15 lakh from more than 8,500 people from Indapur were collected,” Mr. Prasad said.

The district has been witnessing more than 4,000 cases each day in the last fortnight, clocking a record jump of nearly 5,000 fresh cases for the last two days consecutively.

While acknowledging the steep rise in cases, Mr. Prasad pointed out that the mortality rate had gone down.

“About 80% of the cases are to be found in just 69 gram panchayats, which constitutes just 5% of the total gram panchayats in Pune district. So, we are working on reducing cases and fatalities in these areas,” the CEO said.

He said that a massive increase in the rural medical infrastructure had been effected in the last two weeks.

“During this period, we have opened seven additional COVID-19 care centres (CCCs) and four new district Covid health centres (DCHCs), and made one district Covid hospital (DCH) operational. At present, we have enough oxygen and critical care beds to cope with the case spike,” Mr. Prasad said.

The Pune rural region at present has 30 CCCs, 52 DCHCs and six DCHs with a total 1,098 oxygen beds and 1,019 ICU beds of whom 191 have ventilators, officials said.

The ‘penalising’ drive of Pune district officials comes in the wake of recent review meetings held by Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, and State Health Minister Rajesh Tope — all of whom expressed concern over the case surge.

The district currently has more than two lakh reported COVID-19 cases, making it the worst-hit in the country. Of them, more than 35,000 are active cases (around 10,000 of these are from the rural parts of Pune) while nearly 4,700 people have succumbed to the virus thus far.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2020 12:14:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/pune-district-officials-come-hard-on-those-flouting-covid-19-rules/article32545101.ece

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