December 24, 2020 12:49 pm

Of Masks and Fines 

  KO File Photo: Abid Bhat

THE recent decision of Srinagar’s Mayor to impose fines on those who do not wear face masks in public places has insensitive dictatorial overtones, he being a part of an electoral process, which itself is democratic should force him to look for all the peculiarities involved in this matter. When the Covid-19 outbreak took all of us by surprise, we were heaped by different challenges ranging from unavailability of face masks and alcohol based hand rubs, to their sale on much higher rates than they are normally sold.

If such a situation still persists, if we talk about surgical masks for an instance, original surgical masks are now replaced by polymer facemasks, which are a major source of micro-plastic fibres. They are causing allergies and irritation besides being very inconvenient for usage.

Before making corrections in the system and ensuring safe dispensation and distribution of essential commodities like face masks and hand rubs, the mayor cannot go on exercising maximum laws without any benefit or convenience and facility to the citizens.

Free masks should be distributed at government buildings and public parks, a close check should be maintained to curb the sale of spurious hand sanitisers and substandard face masks. The supply of emergency medicines and the availability of adequate oxygen cylinders at hospitals should be ensured. At last but not the least, people need to be educated through media, graffitis, hoardings and different initiatives of propaganda enlightening them about the importance of face masks.

Without taking such things into consideration, and jumping to arm the authorities with even more powers to fine, at a time when an economic recession has affected the majority of the sections here is thoughtless in all senses. The importance of face masks cannot be downplayed, adopting authoritative ways to force people into paying fines for not wearing them doesn’t go very well with democratic values and hence this decision needs an afterthought. The Mayor shall withdraw his earlier passed order, work on the administrative loopholes. People have a right to know about the dangers of exposing themselves to this infection. Awareness should be prioritized over imposing fines.

Sadam Sheikh

sadamsheikh@rediffmail 

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