Will the ‘open-defecation’ ban help clean Goa? What about ‘open-spitting’? ‘Open-littering’?
Is it enough to only ban ‘open-defecation’?
Ever been on a trip to any of Shivaji’s Forts in Maharashtra state? I had the good fortune of visiting ‘Shivneri Fort’ on the 15th of August this year. Saffron-clothed youth stationed at the entrance carrying out checks caught my attention. Not only were they preventing tourists from carrying plastics of any kind into the fort (due to it being a plastic-free zone) but also checking pockets of tourists for ‘gutka’, tobacco etc. Why the policing? A state where chewing tobacco and ‘pan’ is not considered a hazard.
After chewing gutka and pan, people tend to spit the accumulated saliva wherever convenient. On street corners, in alleyways, on pavements, from bus windows, even along walls of stairways. Thus leaving dirty red stains around, a cause for sore eyes.
These saffron-clad youth were protecting their monuments for posterity. Not a bit of paper or dirt was visible near or around the fort. What an indelible impression that left on me!
Much as spitting is a dirty habit it is also unhealthy and hazardous to people with low immunity. Because pneumonia, Bronchitis and Tuberculosis spread through infected sputum. (Sputum when ejected from the mouth, travels through the air carrying with it infected bacteria and viruses.) Thus a ban on open-spitting should also be imposed.
My thoughts wandered to “Amchem Goem” where spitting of ‘gutka’/’pan’-filled-sputum is rampant especially in government buildings (eg. R.T.O., Mapusa, Panaji Municipal Market stairways etc.) to name a few. (Gutka being available despite a ban).
Recently, on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanthi, the Chief Minister mentioned that Goa will be ‘open-defecation free’ after toilets are installed in necessary places. While speaking to media, he said “I believe that state like Goa which has the best natural environment and touristic destination has ample scope to keep the land clean. We could be the first state where open defecation could be banned.” (as reported by Indian Express).
The state had a scheme for construction of toilets in place since 1980’s. Till date, no plan for construction has materialised.
Being an unhealthy and unhygienic practice, open-defecation can lead to numerous diseases.
The Chief Minister desires to make Goa ‘open-defecation free’. In addition, wouldn’t a ban on ‘open-spitting’ also be a step in the right direction?
What the youth at Shivaji’s Fort (in Maharashtra) did to protect their environment and monument, could be an eye opener to the youth in our beautiful state of Goa. Therefore, cleanliness drives need to be taken up on a war-footing.
In conclusion, many of Goa’s heritage monuments lie in ruins. The tourist spots lie in an uncared for and ill-maintained condition. Tourist spots are strewn with litter. Worst of all, government buildings have stairways blotched with pan and gutka spewed all over the walls.
I hope the government realises this and comes out with an anti-spitting and anti-littering bill as well.