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Take immediate, effective steps: HC

Acting on a public interest litigation based on a Hindustan Times report, the Delhi High Court has asked the Delhi Government to take immediate and effective steps to end substance abuse among schoolchildren in Delhi.

delhi Updated: May 25, 2011 01:04 IST
Harish V Nair

Acting on a public interest litigation based on a Hindustan Times report, the Delhi High Court has asked the Delhi Government to take immediate and effective steps to end substance abuse among schoolchildren in Delhi.

Shocked at its "wide prevalence", the court asked the Delhi Government to take preventive measures to curb schoolchildren's access to eraser fluid, naphthalene balls, petrol, diesel, pain relieving balms, glue, nailpolish remover and paint thinner — items used by them for intoxication, while at school.

A Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna said: "It can be fatal at times... substance abuse corrodes young lives. The consequences are anxiety, neurosis, Alzheimer's, depression, obsessive disorder, irreversible nervous breakdown and hallucinations."

The public interest litigation (PIL), filed by lawyer Sanjeev Sabharwal, cited a news item published in the Hindustan Times, dated March 16, titled 'Delhi kids on a dangerous high'.

Justice Misra ordered immediate campaigns by putting up posters at key points in educational institutions and city markets, so that crucial awareness is created in this regard.

Delhi Government counsel, Rajiv Nanda, told the court: "A policy decision has been framed (on) how to curb the malady and educate the children not to abuse their childhood and youth by taking recourse to such acts."

HT had reported on how students of a top school in Greater Noida were caught — on CCTV cameras — sniffing eraser fluid in class. It said the situation was worse in Delhi — where schoolchildren (as young as 10 years) are getting addicted to sniffing eraser fluid, glue, pain-relieving balms, paint thinner, nail polish remover — available in any neighbourhood stationery or provision shop.

Costing between just Rs 15 and Rs 30, most children can buy it easily. Some make do with inhaling petrol from their parents' cars and from parked bikes.

The report quotes doctors who said prolonged abuse can damage brain cells and cause cancer. The PIL has put the Delhi Government, Directorate of Education, National Commission of Protection of Child Rights and Delhi State Commission for protection of child rights, on alert, on this issue.