To spruce up the image of Mumbai which has been ranked as one of the dirtiest destinations by international tourists, Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) has decided to impose a ban on tobacco use in public transport buses.
This is the first time that any public transport undertaking has taken such a decision to discourage people from chewing tobacco products with an objective to keep the city clear of spit stains.
The BEST, which runs about 4600 buses here adjoining cities, has issued a circular giving the right to drivers and conductors to disembark any commuter found to be chewing tobacco products such as betel leaf, tobacco and gutka.
According to the BEST, the decision has been taken following complaints that commuters chewing tobacco are spitting on pedestrians.
BEST officials said that the Motor Vehicle Act has provisions to empower the drivers and bus conductors from taking action against commuters found to be chewing tobacco products. “The bus conductors and drivers would first ask the commuters to alight from the bus and on refusal would hand over the person to the police,” said BEST.
However, the BEST is planning to first set its own house in order as majority of the bus drivers and conductors are addicted to tobacco products. “We have already initiated an awareness campaign for the BEST staff in which periodic check-ups and counselling are conducted to wean the addicted staff members from the habit.
The bus driver and conductor consuming tobacco products on the bus would face departmental action if they are reported by the commuters,” said the BEST spokesperson.
Stains resulting from tobacco consumption is major eyesore in the densely-populated city. So acute is the problem that suburban railways had to stop ordering new trains with royal purple colour which highlighted the tobacco stains and switched to maroon or red on which tobacco stains would not be so evident.