Mumbai: The menace of red stains from pan, gutka in BEST's AC buses

BEST and wet lease contractors collectively spend around Rs 10 crore to keep the buses spotless

Kamal Mishra Pranay ManiarUpdated: Tuesday, December 06, 2022, 09:39 AM IST
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Mumbai: The menace of red stains from pan, gutka in BEST's AC buses | FPJ

Mumbai: Despite warnings and fines by the authorities, public spaces in the city are tainted with pan (betel nut) and gutkha stains on the streets and the walls. From local trains and non-AC buses, the uncouth behaviour has now taken a seat in the BEST's AC buses. “It costs around Rs 10 crore to clean all buses, including AC and non-AC ones; Rs 6 crore is paid by the BEST and rest is borne by different wet lease contractors,” apprised the official.

As the windows of AC buses can't be opened, commuters who consume tobacco products have resorted to spitting behind the back of seats. On Monday, The FPJ checked more than 50 AC buses of BEST and spotted pan and gutkha stains in most of the buses. Currently, the BEST operates more than 1,450 AC buses and most of them are less than five years old. However, thanks to some commuters who have defaced the several windows and even left tobacco stains behind the rear seats and below them. 

Good samaritans have called out the spitting habit

Dry sweeping of all buses, including AC and non-AC ones, is done on a daily basis after completion of the day schedule. Dedicated cleaning staff has been deployed at every bus depot. “Apart from that, deep cleaning of every AC bus is done twice a week. But when buses reach the depot at night, the back of the rear seat is filled with pan-gutkha stains,” said a member of the cleaning staff.

Some good samaritans have called out the spitting habit of fellow commuters. Diya, a daily commuter from the A116 route between the CSMT and Gateway of India said, “I avoid the back seats or the seats that are stained with gutkha as it's a gross sight.” Krishna, a commuter of the same route, quipped that he never noticed the stains as the buses are so crowded both ways. Advocate Abhay Raj, 45, said that the BEST needs to tackle these offenders with heavy fines.

A conductor at the Ahilyabai Chowk outside the Churchgate station said, “I notice people spitting at the back or outside the windows when I am in a non-AC bus. I often discourage them to do so but no one cares. Despite the BEST getting the buses cleaned on a daily basis, the stains appear within a few hours of early service. I have also lost my temper with passengers that try to insert the wrappers of gutkha products into the hinges of the emergency doors as it can become a safety hazard.” Another BEST official said that those spitting inside the buses need to understand that the internal washing of these sophisticated vehicles isn't an easy task. 

“We request our commuters not to spit and litter inside the buses and help us in maintaining cleanliness and hygiene aboard. Please, report such incidents immediately to the conductor or driver so that strict action can be taken against such people,” said BEST General Manager Lokesh Chandra.

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