Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Kerala seeks to improve public hygiene

The Kerala government has adopted a new step to improve public hygiene.

It has issued an order following another High Court directive asking people to refrain from spitting or blowing their nose in public.

Moreover, the order says that one can't even sneeze or cough in public without covering one's face. Strangely, it needed a government order to make people understand this.

In fact, people still continue to smoke at public places like bus-stops in Thiruvananthapuram, openly violating a ban imposed on smoking in public places by the Kerala High Court in 1999.

The government order also has its opponents - among them is 67-year-old watchman Karunakaran.

"Suppose a 70-80 year old man develops coughing and he has to spit. Where will he go? You can't walk with the phlegm in the mouth. It is not practical," said Karunakaran, Watchman.

However, there are also those who support the order.

"Sometimes one feels that certain court orders are out of touch with reality. But this is necessary. In public places such behaviour is unacceptable," said Paloli Mohammed Kutty, Local Self-Government Minister.

The rationale is that public hygiene is as important as personal hygiene.

To implement the order, the government will provide spittoons in all public places, install boards and banners asking people to desist from such behaviour, place advertisements in the media and start sensitizing schoolchildren.

"We should start with children. That will also help in making the parents conscious of civic sense," said Paloli Mohammed Kutty, Local-Self Government Minister.

While the government is fully aware of the practical difficulties involved in implementing such a decision, it is at least attempt to impart some kind of basic civic sense to the man on the street.


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