Tobacco crackdown during pandemic sees number of environment cases rise 78% in NCRB 2020 report

#cases, #COVID19, #environment, #tobacco, directives issued

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As many as 61,767 Environment Related Offences (ERO) were registered in 2020, a 78 percent increase over the 34,676 cases registered in 2019, according to the Crime In India 2020 report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

Cases reported under The Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) topped the list, at 80 percent or 49,710 cases, followed by Noise Pollution Acts (State/Central) with 7,318 cases or 12 percent.

Overall, Tamil Nadu registered the most cases, with 69 percent or 42,756 environment-related cases in 2020, followed by Rajasthan (9,543), Uttar Pradesh (2,981), Kerala (1,795) and Uttarakhand (1,271). These five states account for 94 percent of all cases reported under ERO.

In terms of the rate of environmental related offences, or the crime rate calculated as cases per 100,000 people, Tamil Nadu again topped with 56.1, followed by Rajasthan (12.1), Uttarakhand (11.2), Kerala (5.1) and Puducherry (3.5). The national rate of environment related crime stood at 4.6.

Tamil Nadu accounted for most environment-related offences in 2020 registered under COTPA at 42,731 or 86 percent of cases reported under the crime head.

Ban impact

The increase in registration of cases under this crime head could possibly be because of directives issued by the Central government last year enforcing a “strict ban” on sale of gutka, tobacco and prohibiting spitting in public places amid the Covid-19 pandemic as well as better enforcement/policing initiatives.

The NCRB also releases ‘a word of caution’ in its report, stating: “The primary presumption that the upward swing in police data indicates an increase in crime and thus a reflection of the ineffectiveness of the police is fallacious. ‘Rise in crime’ and ‘increase in registration of crime by police’ are clearly two different things, a fact which is often confused.”

“Thus an oft-repeated expectation from certain quarters that an effective police administration will be able to keep the crime figures low is misplaced. An increase in crime numbers in State police data may in fact be on account of certain citizen-centric policy initiatives, like launching of e-FIR facility or women helpdesks, etc,” the release added.

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