Mask Abhiyan of Odisha

The Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik recently launched a fourteen day “Mask Abhiyan” initiative to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Mask Abhiyan

The main objective of the initiative is to turn the use of mask into a habit. This will play a huge role in controlling the current resurgence of COVID-19. Also, the Odisha State Government has increased the fines for violators from Rs 1000 to Rs 2000.

The Odisha Government had also made amendments to the COVID-19 regulations under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. Accordingly, people who do not wear masks in public places will be fined up to Rs 2,000 for violations for the first time. When violated for the second time, people will be charged with Rs 5,000 of fine.

On what legal grounds has Odisha Government introduced the fines?

In May 2020, the Union Government directed the states to invoke Epidemic Diseases Act. The act empowers the state governments to take special measures during an epidemic. It also defines penalties for defying the regulations provided under the act. Under these provisions, the Odisha Government has introduced the fines.

Provisions of Epidemic Act, 1897

  • Health is a state subject. However, Section 2A of the Epidemics Act empowers the Union Government to take steps to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
  • Section 3 of the act provides penalties for disobedience.
  • Section 4 of the act provides legal protection to the officers implementing actions taken under the act.

Recent Amendments to the Epidemic Act, 1897

The Union Government recently made amendments to the act stating that acts of violence against healthcare service personnel shall be punished. The accused will be imprisoned for three months to five years and will be fined till Rs 2 lakhs.

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