Monday, June 18, 2007

Amritsar joins race with Chandigarh for India's first smoke-free city

Amritsar that houses the sacred Golden Temple for the Sikhs worldwide is in contention with Chandigarh to become country's first smoke free city.

Groups like Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM) have demanded to make Amritsar become smoke-free city before July 1, since Chandigarh administration is working to get the city declared smoke free by that date.

In a letter to Chief Minister S. Parkash Singh Badal, the patron of the group Dr. Charanjit Singh Gumtala urged the former to take urgent steps in this direction. According to media report Chandigarh will have designated smoking areas at all public places and buildings to ensure that smoking is restricted and the general public is not forced to passively inhale smoke. The groups are stating that Amritsar deserves first smoke-free city status because it is the holy city and is known as Mecca of the Sikhs, where Guru Granth Sahib -the holy Sikh scripture- was written.

Keeping the importance of the holy city, smoking and meat shops were banned around the 200 meters periphery of the Golden Temple in 1982. Besides protecting children and other citizens from the harmful consequences of tobacco and smoking, such an initiative will improve the global image of the Amritsar and will be helpful in promoting transport, tourism and business.

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