NAVI MUMBAI: With the reopening of paan and ghutka shops in ‘green zones’ and the return of the menace of spitting in public places, a group of environmentalists have launched a satirical communication campaign to spit up, and not down.

The campaign #SirUthakeThuko targets the people who are habitual paan and tobacco chewers and spit in public places without any hesitation, said B N Kumar, director of NatConnect Foundation. “It is not only a dirty habit but dangerous particularly in view of the prevailing COVID 19 pandemic,” he pointed out.

“We are being repeatedly told by doctors that novel corona virus spreads through droplets emanating out of coughing and sneezing. Spitting is obviously much more harmful,” said Nandakumar Pawar, head of NGO Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan.

“It is horrible that people lift their face masks and continue to spit on the roads causing a big menace,” Pawar pointed out.

Through the campaign on social media, the activists have also appealed to various civic bodies to impose hefty, deterrent fines such as Rs 5,000 per offence and make them clean the spit.  

The spitting menace also defeats the Swachh Bharat spirit and dirties our streets, Kumar said.

Though ghutka is banned in Maharashtra, the addicts have found their own concoction by mixing tobacco with paan masala which is freely available. The sachets are being sold in black as the shops are officially shut.

Corona or no corona, spitting is a huge public menace, said Koparkhairne-based home-maker Vijayalakshmi.  “We used to encounter spit areas before we board an auto-rickshaw or even a taxi. And in other public places such as railway stations and bus stops, the situation is worse,” she said.