Nearly 45% of pub-goers in the Capital, particularly in south Delhi, had their first drink at 13, says a survey that comes close on the heels of a recent incident in Janakpuri area where a 21-year-old was involved in multiple hit-and-run cases on his way back from a party. Two people died and one person was critically injured in the accident.
The survey said a total of 49.6% males and 42.3% females have their first drink before or at the age of 13 years. The study was done by NGO Community Against Drunken Driving (CADD) and was conducted among 5,000 respondents between the age of 15-44 years.
The survey was conducted mainly outside bar and pub clusters in Hauz Khas Village, Khan Market, Defence Colony, Greater Kailash-I and Saket. Legal drinking age in Delhi is 25.
The findings of the survey also raise a question on city pubs and bars serving alcohols without checking IDs or questioning the visitors. According to statistics by CADD, a total of 1,875 deaths due to accidents took place in the Capital last year out of which 70% were due to drink driving.
All the respondents in the survey said they have driven while under the influence of alcohol at least once in their lifetime even if it was for short distance. Delhi police does not maintain a specific data of reasons behind road accidents.
Road safety expert and founder of CADD, Prince Singhal, said, “Accidents like the one in Janakpuri are waiting to happen in other areas of Delhi if administration does not act strictly against drink and drive.”
A member of the team that was involved in the survey said south Delhi areas are especially vulnerable as it is home to Hauz Khas, Greater Kailash and other areas where many youngsters like to hang out.
Chaitanya Kumar, 23, a resident of Green Park said, “Enter any disco, pub or bar in south Delhi and chances are very low that anyone would ask for your identity card before serving you alcohol.”
Other startling facts also came out during the survey like the average weekly expenditure on alcohol among 50% of those who go to pubs in these areas is Rs 2,000 - Rs 5,000.
Around 56% male above 45 years and 42.5% females in the age group 35-44 years spend over `5,000 in a week on alcohol, according to the survey. Also, an increasing number of women are taking up drinking. “During our survey we found that number of days in a week in which alcohol has been consumed by women has risen,” said a member of the team.
Around 60% of the female respondents in the age group 35-44 years said they consume alcohol 2-3 days a week. Around 68.2% female in the age group 15-24 years had more than five cocktails. The survey also indicated that increasing number of people are getting into drink driving.
Despite measures to abstain people from drink and drive like Operation Chakravyuha and licence-seizure exercises, prosecution rate for drunk drivers in the Delhi is abysmally low at less than 7%, the survey found.
Secondly, of all the people who had driven under the influence of alcohol, only 6.94% were stopped and prosecuted by police.
Experts say that this is mainly because police check posts are at predictable spots and youths know alternate routes to dodge them.