Taking a cue from British lawmakers, if the state government were to make spitting a criminal offence in Mumbai, it would prove to be a near–impossible task to prosecute offenders given the colossal numbers fined each year for spitting in public.
Morethan 70,000 peoplein the city have been fined for spittingin public placesbetween August 2011 and July 2012, accordingto an estimate by BMC officials, bringing in upwards of Rs 1.4 crore in fines.
Notsurprisingly,the plan to make spitting in public, a common practice in the South Asian community in the UK, by a London borough has made headlines in India.
TheBMCofficialswhohave led the Clean–Up Mumbai campaign believe this number isjustthetip of theiceberg. "For one, a large part of Mumbai’s spitting corridors—the railway tracks— have not been covered by the campaign. And, even on the streets, the frequent scraps between Clean–Up marshals andoffenders actually dissuaded an overwhelming majority of these marshals from doing their job. Otherwise, the figures would have been manifold," an official said.‘ 200 fine too little for spitting’
The city is reeling under the public nuisances of spitting and littering, but is yet to have a stiff deterrent in place. The ‘Clean–Up Marshal’ scheme suspended in 2012 on allegations of corruption, was revived only last month.
"Most fines collected every day are either for littering and spitting," said a senior civic official. The ruling Shiv Sena last year had announced a plan to ban spitting in public and had also appointed a committee to deliberate over this, but a year on, there is no update on the proposal.
Rahul Shewale, standing committee chairman said the BMC will try and find ways to ban spitting in the city.
The BMC, during the drive, categorised littering, spitting and relieving–in–public offences under one head. Official figures show the number was between 1.3 lakh and 1.4 lakh. Solid waste management officials, who have interacted with the marshals and devised the campaign, say that more than half of these – around 70,000 – are spitting offences. The total fine collected during the drive was more than Rs 7 crore. Spitting offences were followed by dumping debris and medical waste in the city.
Activists feel the fine of Rs 200 is too little for public nuisance and should be increased manifold to act as a real deterrent, given the prevalence of tuberculosis – one of the more serious diseases that can spread from spitting – in Mumbai.
The Clean–Up marshal scheme launched in 2007, put 700 marshals on the streets of Mumbai, authorized to fine those who litter or spit on roads or public places like malls, commercial establishments.SPITTING MENACE
BMC collected a total of 7–8 crore (approx) from August 2011 to July 2012 for various things like littering, dumping debris and medical waste in the city | Around 1.4 crore would have been for spitting | More than 70,000 people have been fined for spittingTUBERCULOSIS THREAT
One can be infected with TB when he/she inhales minute particles of infected sputum from the air | The bacteria spreads when a lung TB patient coughs without covering the mouth, or spits
Times of India
22 July 2013, Mumbai, India.