Kolkata Municipal Corporation has imposed penalties on a few people who had littered the roads and also circulated a freshly prepared challan among its officials with an instruction to increase the frequency of such penalties.
The steps come after civic officials were told twice in the last fortnight by mayor Firhad Hakim to penalise people who were littering roads.
Individuals littering a road will have to pay Rs 525 for the first offence. The fine for the second is Rs 735 and for the third and every subsequent time, the fine is Rs 1,050.
Among those already fined are shopkeepers who had thrown waste in front of their stores, a market association in Kasba in south Kolkata and pedestrians throwing garbage on the road.
Borough and ward-level officials of the KMC’s solid waste management department supervising waste collection came across these instances and imposed the penalties.
“Often, we see people leave a packet full of waste on a gully pit cover. They think street cleaners will pick up the waste. But during monsoon, such plastic bags prevent water on a road from being drained out,” Hakim had earlier told The Telegraph.
The mayor’s nudge also comes at a time when dengue cases have risen significantly in Kolkata. Proper disposal of solid waste is an essential measure to prevent dengue infections. Waste thrown in a corner of the road that is not cleaned regularly can turn into a mosquito-breeding site if the waste has containers and water collects in it.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito, the primary transmitter of dengue virus, can breed even in a spoonful of water.
An official at the KMC headquarters said that borough and ward-level officials have been asked to carry the challans with them whenever they step out so that anyone littering can be prosecuted instantly.
“If someone is caught red-handed, they will not have the opportunity to deny that they have thrown waste on a road,” said the official.
A section of Kolkatans, however, feel that before imposing such penalties the KMC should provide more bins across the city so that well-meaning citizens are not forced to throw trash on a road.
The national practice is to have bins at 250-metre intervals from each other in all directions, said a KMC official.
But most streets in Kolkata lack bins at such short intervals and in places where there are bins, they are not easy to spot or are overflowing with garbage.
Besides, the KMC has also decided to remove waste bins from residential areas — further reducing options to throw small volumes of trash usually generated while eating fast food. There are multiple fast food joints in all residential areas.
A KMC official said they were withdrawing the bins because many people used them to dispose their daily household waste despite waste collectors going to every locality in the morning.
The fresh challans also have the provision to prosecute people littering from a car. Who gets caught depends on luck, however, as civic officials are unlikely to chase and catch the occupants of such a car. But if the car stops at a traffic signal or gets stuck in a snarl, KMC officials will use the opportunity to impose the penalty.