- ‘It’s my first day in Pune, wasn’t aware of the ‘no spitting’ rule,” said an IT employee hailing from Delhi.
- “Wasn’t chewing anything. I was talking and suddenly something flew in my mouth,” claimed an autorickshaw driver.
- “Wow! Criminals are getting away with murders and I have to pay a fine for spitting,” wondered an unemployed youngster.
These and many such excuses were offered by road users who were caught red-handed while spitting on roads by civic officials on Monday when teams from the sanitation department of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) spread across 16 major squares in the city as part of a drive to stop spitting in public places.
But none of the excuses could save these offenders from the punishment: a Rs 150 cash penalty and cleaning the spittle off the road amid public glare. Each of the 270 offenders who were caught by civic officials within two hours — 12 noon to 2 pm when the drive was held in the city — were handed a mop and a bucket of water which they had to use to clean up the road they had dirtied.
Starting from just one ward office in Bibvewadi, the PMC had kicked off the drive on October 31 to implement the Maharashtra government’s order dated September 7, 2018, which delegated the rights to municipal bodies to impose a ‘spot fine’ on individuals or organisations who do not comply with the provisions of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016. As per the rules, while civic bodies are responsible for maintaining the areas under their jurisdiction, the citizens are also expected to fully co-operate by not littering public places.
On the first day of the drive, sanitary staffers attached to Bibvewadi Ward Office of the PMC caught 23 offenders, of which 19 were made to clean up the mess. “The idea of making the offender clean the spittle came to us after we came across offenders who refused to pay the Rs 150 fine amount. Some said they won’t pay, some said they don’t have money to pay the fine. So we decided that as a settlement, we would ask them to at least clean up their dirt. Later, seeing the psychological impact this had on the offenders, our seniors directed us and sanitary officers in other wards to compulsorily make every violator who is caught to mop the spot in addition to the cash penalty,” said Vikram Kathawate, Deputy Sanitary Inspector, Bibvewadi ward.
From November 2, the drive was extended to four other wards and till November 11, a total of 160 offenders were penalised. From Monday, the drive was spread across the city under all 15 ward offices of the PMC. “On Monday, we caught 270 violators on just one day. We wish to keep up the momentum by carrying out the drive in more areas… The government has set a fine of Rs 150 for spitting in public places, throwing garbage on roads (Rs 180), open defecation (Rs 500) and littering (Rs 200).