HYDERABAD: Hyderabad is ranked as the best city for living in India for the fourth time in a row, it features at 22nd position in the list of cleanest city which features 30 other Indian cities. The list is released by Swachh Sarvekshan published by Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) of India. Both the data facts present a contrast. Keeping aside pollution and other factors it’s the great spitting habit of people in the city which has pushed it down the list of cleanliness unifying the city with those dirtied with spit. A national habit that spitting has become, one can see betel juice stains in government offices, public places, parks and even lifts stinking badly from a distance. So who are these people who grace the ground with their saliva all around?
Well, the usual rant is targetted at those auto rickshaw drivers who with each honk, cuss and spit at one another before starting the race of overtaking other vehicles. Or those pedestrians who while taking a turn on the road just open their mouth and out goes from their mouth the spit. But can one expect a well-dressed gentleman driving his Audi doing this? Or that man clad in his Puma joggers and Nike shoes spitting where he goes for walk. Welcome to the reality! These are as much responsible for sullying the streets and roads as others. Says Naina Duuvri a regular at KBR Park, “The other day I scolded a man for spitting on grass. Instead of feeling ashamed he grinned saying ‘there’s no other place to spit’!” She fumed in anger and complained to the authorities at the park. One staffer told her that they threaten them if questioned. A disappointed Naina went to another corner of the park and the moment she sat on the grass a sticky substance came in contact with her feet. Lo and behold! Spit! She was disgusted to find a group of decent old man chatting afar and continuously spitting on the rocks near which they sat.
It’s not Naina’s ordeal alone. People don’t even respect heritage structure. Sarosh P, who has made the city his home spotted the security guard posted at Charminar spitting right there. He shares, “I was shocked. It’s a heritage structure and the person employed over there was spitting at the gate. Shameful. I gave him a piece of my mind. He just grinned completely ignoring my words. So what is it that makes a state, a nation or a city spit? Is it just a habit? Or carelessness. Despite the fact that there have been attempts like Spit Free India campaign to remove this dirty mass habit. Raja Narasimhan, co founder of the campaign asserts, “Of course, it’s a habit which has pervaded the country for years.” So what the government is doing? Are there laws to curb this nuisance? Union Health Minister JP Nadda had once promised that he would get to ban spitting in public.
Though several municipal laws do have provisions to ban spitting in public with a penalty, the problem is that the same is not implemented. Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) can slap those who spit with Rs500 fine according to sanitation bye-laws. But laws aside isn’t it common sense not to spit in public spaces especially parks. Says Kaajal Maheshwari environment activist, “Spitting in the park, though is a surface issue needs to be addressed. It’s a national park and not a municipal one that people can do whatever they want.” Point indeed, but are people ready to look within themselves? Certainly not in the ‘sp[l]it’ of a second!