Restrict Coronavirus - Make SPITTING punishable

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Dear Prime Minister,

This single urgent action is the need of the hour, with fear of the dreaded coronavirus gripping the nation. Taking precautions of washing hands, wearing masks, sanitizing staircases/ doorknobs, avoiding crowds etc is INEFFECTIVE in the face of rampant spitting on virtually every street of our country.

Your Swachh Bharat campaign has been successful in drawing attention to cleaner public spaces; now let us leverage this illness at our doorstep as a milestone event to completely eradicate certain unhygienic practices that can spread coronavirus and too many other infections. Tuberculosis still impacts a high percentage of our population - no surprise when the spitting habit freely transmits such infectious diseases. While this has continued for decades with no strong counter action, now with coronavirus spreading fast, there is no time to delay in taking the following immediate actions

1.      A law for the nation to be immediately passed to prevent the following in public places

a.      all forms of spitting, be it just of saliva or spitting of chewed paan/gutka

b.      open blowing of noses

It must be made adequately clear that the only place for both these actions are in washbasins or flushes of toilets with water immediately poured over; and not on street corners, pavements, walls, staircases, etc.

2.      Penalties must be steep (as Kochi in Kerala has done, penalty of a year in jail or a fine of up to Rs5000 or both). Penalties for repeat offences need to be higher.

3.      Enforcement authority must be clearly stated (in Kochi, the police has been empowered to enforce). Enforcement must immediately be stringently done, including in any states where such law exists only on paper. Reporting of enforcement drives in the media must be done for the deterrent effect to happen.

4.      Awareness of the disastrous effects of spitting MUST be publicized in all media, along with this new law and fine structure. Our film stars and national icons may be looped in as part of the Swachh Bharat Mission campaign to remind the masses why they MUST stop spitting. This input must also be incorporated into the syllabus of all government schools.

5.      Sale of paan, gutka on streets in loose sachets is also a key factor for increased spitting and preventive action may be considered.

6.      Urination or defecating in public also needs similar treatment; though unhygienic and part of the Swachh mission, it may not as directly lead to disease as in the case of spitting; however, if this could also be added in, it will be a turning point for hygiene levels of our streets.

Prime Minister, please do not disappoint a nation in the grip of fear, as putting an immediate stop to spitting is a CRUCIAL MISSING LINK in preventing the spread of the dreaded coronavirus; this aspect has got no attention thus far. We await the new law and urgent enforcement to make spitting in India a thing of the past.

(Beautiful Bengaluru is a citizen initiative working for a clean, green, safe city and greener planet.  beautifulbengaluru.org  bebeautifulbengaluru@gmail.com)

 #NoMoreSpitting  #SwasthaBharat  #SwachhBharat   #PreventDisease  #CoronaOutbreak   #Coronavirus #PublicHealth #CleanPublicSpaces  #HealthForAll   #BeautifulBengaluru   #BeTheChange