City anchor: No chewing gutkha, paan masala on BEST buses

The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking has decided to ban commuters from consuming gutkha, tobacco or paan on board the public utility's buses or at bus shelters from January 1.

Any commuter found consuming these substances on board a BEST bus will be asked to disembark as per the Maharashtra Motor Vehicles Act, 1989.

"Of late, we have noticed that some passengers chew gutkha, paan and tobacco inside buses and spit out of the windows. Other passengers suffer discomfort due to such people," said Virendra Bagul, spokesperson, BEST.

Passengers also spit inside BEST buses, affecting the hygiene and cleanliness of the bus fleet, he added.

"We have instructed our drivers and conductors to make sure that if any passenger is found violating this rule, the bus should be stopped and he should be asked to get off," Bagul said.

BEST has also made it clear that drivers and conductors would also be prohibited from consuming gutkha, paan masala and tobacco on duty. Commuters have been banned from consuming these products at bus stops, bus shelters and depots.

Sunil Ganacharya, a BEST committee member belonging to the Shiv Sena, said there could be glitches in implementing this rule. This could lead to arguments and fights between bus drivers, conductors and passengers not willing to comply, but that is no reason to refrain from banning the substances inside BEST premises, he said.

"These issues will need to be addressed before the rule is implemented in January. We will create awareness about the rule by displaying advertisements on BEST premises, bus stands and buses. Some buses have an LCD screen. We can flash the new rule with the consequences of flouting it on these screens. Drivers and conductors will also be asked to spread awareness," Ganacharya said.

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