Close on the heels of three villages in Noida banning tobacco and tobacco products,around 30 gram panchayats are also set to follow suit.
We will be conducting a regional panchayat next week,in which heads of nearly 30 villages will take part. We will declare tobacco banned in these villages also at the meeting, said Ashok Choudhary,member of Barauli gram panchayat.
Morna,Nithari,Sadarpur and Chalera are some of the other villages that are planning to implement the ban.
Sarfabad was the first village to ban tobacco products such as gutkha and kheni. Hoshiarpur and Sorkha followed suit.
The residents of all these villages agreed to the tobacco ban. The decision was not forced on them, said Sukhveer Singh,a panchayat member of Sarfabad village and the man who spearheaded the initiative.
Singh said,We have talked to the heads of nearly 30 villages and they all have agreed to it. We will implement the ban on the same day in all these villages. Once the tobacco ban is in place,we will discuss about banning alcohol.
Ashok Kumar Yadav,pradhan of Hoshiarpur village,said,We banned tobacco on Monday. On Thursday,we took out a procession of Class VIII students of the village and checked all shops for tobacco products. Surprisingly,none of the shops were selling tobacco.
We have written to the chief minister asking for a complete ban on tobacco in the state and submitted the letter to the city magistrate, Singh said.
The City Magistrate Rajesh Kumar Yadav said he has forwarded the letter to the District magistrate on Thursday. The DM after his approval will send it to the government. But as long as the government doesnt issue a directive banning tobacco,it is illegal for any panchayat to impose fine on people consuming tobacco.
He said,We will take action against the panchayat,if any villager files a complaint.