While the State authorities are appealing people to wear masks, use sanitisers and maintain physical distance amid the Covid-19 pandemic, there is barely any emphasis on preventing people from spitting in public places.
The authorities are charging penalties from people for not wearing masks but there are negligible penalties for spitting in public since the pandemic hit the State, even after the recent orders of the Uttarakhand High Court.
In May, Abhijay Negi had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) concerning the implementation of the provision of the Uttarakhand Anti-Littering and Anti-Spitting Act 2016 in the State.
According to Negi, the government bodies submitted the required documents in court showing that the administration is implementing the Act across the State but still, the court ordered the district magistrates, municipal commissioners of the municipal corporations and executive officers of municipalities across the State to take necessary actions under this act. He further said that if the authorities concerned are not charging penalties for spitting in public, it can act as one of the major carriers of Covid-19 virus making the condition more severe in the current crisis.
Negi also added that though the high court disposed of the petition, it has permitted him to take this matter to court again if the administration or municipal bodies seem to fail in implementing the act properly. However, not all the authorities concerned are effectively enforcing the Anti-Spitting Act.
For instance, at the Municipal Corporation of Dehradun (MCD), the officials here have not started to impose fine on spitting in public places, reportedly since the last couple of months.
According to the Dehradun chief municipal health officer, Dr Kailash Joshi, the work of the corporation has increased during the current pandemic and most of the workers and employees of MCD have been busy in maintaining sanitisation in the city besides regularly sanitising the containment zones, quarantine centres and the public places among others.
He also added that the corporation is also currently busy in spreading awareness among locals about dengue besides adopting anti-dengue measures in the city which leaves very less time and manpower to commence the process of charging penalties for spitting in public.
Furthermore, talking about the risk, spitting in public places can pose towards contagion of Covid-19, district surveillance officer (DSO) of Dehradun district, Dr Rajeev Dixit said that when an infected person spits in a public place, the saliva comes in contact with all the particles in the air before it reaches the surface.
Now anyone can carry the virus from that surface through their shoes to their car or to their home or children can come in contact with that surface or virus while playing around the area, added Dixit.
He stated that spitting in the public can cause aerosol transmission of not just Covid-19 virus but other contagious diseases like tuberculosis too, which can affect several people in an area.
Therefore, he added that whether any Government body charges a penalty on spitting in public or not, people should be aware and must avoid spitting in public places as it can lead to a health hazard too.