There is some good news for bus passengers who are annoyed with the tobacco, pan and gutkha chewing habits of their fellow commuters. The Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) has decided to ban the consumption or spitting of tobacco or pan masala products inside buses and in the undertakings' premises from January 1, 2013.
“We received several complaints regarding the nuisance the tobacco and gutkha chewing commuters create. The ban will apply to our staff as well. The offenders will be handed over to police who will prosecute them" said Virendra Bagul, BEST public relations officer. He said that the police would take action under the Maharashtra Motor Vehicles Act (MVA) 1989 section 102 (2), which according to legal experts provides for a penalty of up to Rs600, or prosecution for creating nuisance to co-passengers.
Bagul said that as a preventive measure, the staff manning the bus would ask offenders to not board the bus or get down if found consuming the banned products.
If, despite the warning, any passenger is found violating the rule and refuses to leave the bus, the police would take charge. BEST has already started sensitising the commuters and staff.
“We have displayed notices in our depots and on bus stops informing people about the initiative,” said Bagul.
Activists and commuters welcomed the move. Transport expert Ashok Datar said, “The rule should be taken seriously by the passengers. If they find someone consuming the banned substance they should complain immediately to the conductor and the driver of the bus.