Read Times of India feature by Priyangi Agarwal, TNN | Jan 20, 2015, 09.50PM IST titled "No one caught smoking in public in UP?"
BAREILLY: An RTI activist who sought a reply on the number of people fined for smoking in public in the last five years in the state has drawn a blank. The directorate of local bodies of Uttar Pradesh revealed that they had no information to the effect in their records though a nationwide law prohibiting smoking in any public place was implemented in October 2008. Under the law, a penalty of Rs 200 would be imposed on the person caught flouting the rule.
RTI activist Urvashi Sharma said this reply implies that the fine has not been levied on any person in UP from July 10, 2009 to November 11, 2014. In reply to the same RTI, the department also stated that there is no record of persons found littering at public places.
"Asked on the number of people on whom a fine was imposed for smoking in public district wise in the state in last five years, the RTI reply stated that they have no such information in their records. It clearly suggests that not a single person in any district of the state has been fined during the said period and hence, no record is available in the directorate of local bodies," said Sharma."The motive of filing RTI was to ascertain whether the rule was enforced better during Mayawati's or Akhilesh Yadav's regime. But it appears that no one was interested in it."
However, smoking in public places was prohibited nationwide from October 2008 under the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2008 and Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA). The public places where smoking is banned include small cafes, restaurants, educational institutions, pubs or discotheques, public offices, airports, hospitals, railway stations and bus stands.
"Even Union government has recently moved an amendment for a more stringent anti-smoking law with radical changes, including ban on sale of loose cigarettes, raising the minimum age of a person buying tobacco products to 21 years from existing 18 years, raising of fine to Rs 1,000 from Rs 200 on smoking in public places, increasing the maximum fine to Rs 1 lakh from the existing Rs 10,000. A person can gauge that how far this new law would be effective through the RTI reply," said Sharma.
The same RTI query also revealed that there is no record of the fine imposed on number of people caught throwing garbage in open at public places in the last five years. "This again suggests that no person in the state has been fined for littering in public places but hoardings and posters have been put up at many places in the state with warnings of penalties for littering in public places. As government agencies have failed to strictly levy fine on people, it also poses a question mark on the success of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'clean India campaign' in the state," said Sharma.
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