Smoking in public places was banned three years ago, but the railways on Tuesday received a strange proposal seeking creation of smoking zones at railway stations and platforms. This demand was put forth at this year’s last meeting between the Western Railway (WR) administration and the commuters’ representatives.
These members are part of the Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee (ZRUCC), and represent four states — Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh — where the WR runs its train services.
Shabbir Memon,a member of the committee, who hails from Jogeshwari demanded separate smoking zones similar to how it exists at airports and theatres.
“There is a need for such smoking zones at least at important stations in the city such as Dadar, Borivli, Dahanu and Ahmedabad,” said Memon, who now wants a written explanation on this issue from the authorities.
However, the WR has refused to take cognizance of this demand stating that it is unlawful to smoke in public places. “We haven’t accepted this demand raised by the member as it is against the law,” said S Chandrayan, chief PRO, WR.
The Railway Board in its earlier guideline circulated in 2004 had mentioned that smoking and consuming liquor at public places such as railway stations is strictly prohibited.
Memon’s proposal for separate smoking zones drew sharp reactions from activists.
Vincent Nazareth, chairman of Crusade Against Tobacco, said, “Smoking zones are allowed only at airports and restaurants with a seating capacity of 30 or more. This demand put forth by Memon is nothing less than a political gimmick.”