North India’s nuisance: IR spending Rs.100 Crore a month to scrub Paan Stains at Railway Stations and Trains

Who Is Responsible For Unclean Railway Stations in India? In the National Capital Region (New Delhi) and also the Country’s Financial Capital (Mumbai), and many more cities, Paan and Gutkha stains on the walls of Railway Stations are like Public Art! Thanks to those shameless societies taming such a nasty culture!

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The virtues of the famous paan were extolled by an actor in a hit song from a 1978 Bollywood Hindi film. But 39 years later, the various Railway administrations in the North India are worried that its spittle ruining city-scapes leave alone the historical Railway Stations. The cities of North India are facing a major problem now a days with a social menace – betel nut chewing and spitting on the walls of adorable Railway stations of India.

The situation is so alarming that the menace is spreading so fast to the other parts of the country. Not only Cities of tourism and business importance of North India like – New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Pune, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Varanasi, Patna, Raipur, Kanpur, Agra etc are reeling under major societal nuisance, but also many rural areas are now addicting to this nasty culture.

Social Psychologists are of the opinion that even if a normal individual (without betel nut chewing habit) encounters a person chewing betel nut with profusely spitting habit every minute, then such a normal person also feel inconvenient and spits instantly as his stomach cannot bear the irritation emanating by seeing the other persons.

Recently Varanasi Municipality started imposing fine up to Rs.500 on people for each paan spit and Rs 100 for littering public space with wrappers after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanadh ordered stringent actions against those errants. If they succeed, they will achieve a feat that the strictest civic agencies across the world had failed to.

Sprays of betel and tobacco juice embellish urban landscapes across India. According to a report, catch a spitter in action and the pet refrain will be how it is the most Indian thing to do. In the national capital, the paan and gutkha stains are like public art.

You can see the spittle trails on the exteriors of stately government buildings, the snow white walls of Connaught Place, railings of elevated roads and flyovers, the boundaries of expensive hotels and even in car parks. The Kolkata Port Trust has been complaining about how the city’s iconic Howrah Bridge that it maintains has lost half its protective metal casing to the acids contained in paan. Last year, the central and western railways declared that they were spending Rs 3 crore a month to scrub paan stains out of Mumbai’s local trains. We have also carried the tradition abroad.

Many of the labour class citizens from North India are migrating to South Indian cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Mysore, Thiruvananthapuram etc., for various jobs in the infrastructure sectors. These labourers who has the habit of chewing ghutka and betel nut are posing serious harm to the south India too.

Medical analysts says that this menace is viral and spreads so fast. If someone is seen spitting profusely, the other with no such habit also feels to spit instantly since the opposite person’s behavious causes whirlwind in his stomach and he also starts spitting.  This is really a big menace, said the medical practitioners.

Stain on Mumbai’s conscience – Railway Stations is now twice as horrible

Here’s an ugly stain on Mumbaikars’s conscience – despite several attempts to keep the city’s stations clean, data from the railways show that spitting and littering has doubled since last year. Figures from Western Railway (WR) shows that as many as 6,870 people were littering and spitting in March alone – more than twice the number caught in March 2016 (3,069).

In 2016-17, total number of spitting and littering cases registered under Section 198 of the Railways Act went up to 89,378 – nearly double the figures from the previous year, when 45,009 were registered.

Nothing has worked: Last month, a front-page story in mid-day highlighted how this menace continued to plague railway stations, despite efforts to beautify the premises with art. In fact, artists took offence to citizens spitting on their work and announced that they would no longer participate in the beautification project (Mu­­mbai says Aakh thoo to pretty railway stations’, April 17). Railway authorities conducted many clean-up drives and also raised the pen­alty for defiling station premises from Rs.100 to Rs.200 in October 2016. Despite this, the filthy practice shows no sign of abating.

DRM/Mumbai said, “Though we cannot assign officials at every spot to catch people spitting and spreading dirt, we are trying our best to maintain station hygiene. However, the condition is poor at every public place because people are not ready to change their attitude. According to the data, since the past two years, spitting has only increased at railway stations. This is why we increased the penalty for it, but despite this the figures have more than doubled in March 2017.” Jain added, “From Western Railway, Andheri station is where the largest number of people are caught spitting. On a daily basis, around eight cases of spitting are registered at this station alone.”

Double at CR too: When approached Central Railway for information on such cases, officials stated that they wouldn’t be able to provide the data. However chief spokesperson Narendra Patil admitted that they had also witnessed a significant increase in offences. “The railway authorities are trying all possible means to keep our stations clean. Our figures of spitting and littering have also doubled, but this is only because we have started strict patrolling at the railway stations in the past year.”