| A roadside gutkha shop on SP Verma in Patna. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
Smokers on Friday puffed their way to glory, as ill-equipped police looked the other way 12 days after promising strict action against tobacco consumption.
District tobacco control cell is yet to provide challan receipts to police stations in the city for imposing fine on the violators despite invoking the ban under Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.
Police officers said they would start the crackdown on violators “as soon as they get challans”.
“Under the act, we can impose fine on violators but for that we need the challans. We are waiting for the district tobacco cell to provide us with that. The date of beginning the exercise depends on when we receive the receipts,” said Ashok Kumar Sinha, senior deputy superintendent of police (DSP-headquarters).
On August 5, the tobacco control cell, in association with non-government organisation Population Services International, had organised a workshop to develop an action plan for better enforcement of law in the district. Several deputy superintendents of police (DSPs) and sub-inspectors from about 20 police stations from urban areas had participated in the workshop.
The officers stressed that the ban on smoking in public places and on the sale of tobacco products to minors and within 100 yards of educational and health institutions in Patna should be strictly enforced. They said the situation should be monitored in monthly crime review meetings. It was also decided that the police would take measures to enforce the act and activities undertaken by the police stations would be reviewed.
Little, however, has moved forward since then.
Dr Rajnish Chaudhary, the nodal officer of the district tobacco control cell, said: “Our first aim is to sensitise police personnel about the provisions of the act and how to enforce them. There were some issues, as we could not distribute challan receipts earlier. On August 24, we will organise a similar workshop for the cops at rural police stations of the district. Thereafter, we will provide them with the receipts.”
DSP Sinha, who took part in the August 5 workshop, said: “All station house officers would be made responsible for ensuring that the ban on smoking in public places is implemented at their respective jurisdiction. As soon as we get challan receipts, we will start imposing fines on offenders.”
City superintendent of police Jayant Kant said the police were overburdened with responsibilities to check crime, but added that efforts were on to implement the ban.
Smokers, however, continued with their puffing spree in busy commercial stretches like Exhibition Road, SP Verma Road, Frazer Road and Dakbunglow Road.