Hyderabad: Spitting in public places is banned by way of checking the spread of Covid-19. However, people in Hyderabad chew an estimated 10 lakh paan packs wrapped in betel leaves a day and are spitting their way through the streets.
No advice to them is welcome. On April 11, an elderly person who objected to the spitting at the Urban Primary Health Centre in Malakpet was thrashed. The 64-year-old was beaten up by three men. The Malakpet police intervened and settled the matter through a compromise pact.
Covid-related regulations empower the police to ensure there is no spitting in public places. Officials of the GHMC vested with the responsibility to keep the city clean and hygienic couldn’t care less.
Police officials say they have no data about any arrest or fine on this count. It is likely there was neither an arrest nor the filing of a case so far.
Enquiries at the Paan Mandi revealed that the betel leaves that arrive in the city every day would suffice to make over 17 lakh pan packs. A larger part of this is consumed in the city while the rest goes to districts. Half of the pan packs used here contain tobacco.
The Paan Mandi in Darusalam, the only one of its kind in Telangana state, stays open three days a week. “We get the leaves from Kadapa and West Bengal,” says P.Murli of PVS paan company, which is in this business for over 50 years. He said: “There are around 25 shops in this market and it is from here that the leaves go across the state.”
Sheik Rasheed, paan-maker at a premium pan shop said, “Ten people work in my shop in two shifts. Paan price starts at Rs 4 and goes up to Rs 65 for each pack. We sell over a thousand pan packs a day.” While many take six packs, there are also those who chew as many as 20 pans a day,” he said.