An NDTV investigation tracked down street children living across the capital and discovered how a majority of children have become regular addicts.
The streets of Delhi are no place for children, yet more than one lakh children spend each night on the streets, rather than trying to help them return back to their families, there are some individuals who are literally profiting from their plight, according to NGOs.
An NDTV investigation tracked down street children living across the capital and discovered how a majority of children have become regular addicts, sniffing harmful chemicals including industrial glues to get high and perhaps a momentary escape from reality.
"I ran away three years ago as my stepfather used to beat me, I sniff this stuff especially when I think of home as it helps me forget," said a nine year who had come to Delhi from Bareilly three years ago. Since then, he has lived under the shadow of the Barapullah flyover built for the 2010 commonwealth games.
The most popular chemicals used are Omni and Ok brands of tyre puncture glues. Almost every child NDTV spoke to had either sniffed these glues or was planning to do so in the next few hours.
"We earn about 150 rupees each day by collecting empty water bottles and discarded food boxes from trains," said another boy.
Each tube of this glue costs Rs 35, and comes with a warning to keep them away from children, yet shopkeepers take full advantage. NDTV filmed several shopkeepers on hidden cameras selling this to children for anything between Rs 80-100, almost three times the maximum price.
"It's is extremely hard to give up this habit, as it enters the blood stream and both psychology and physiology is impacted making it hard to exit," says Dr Bhavna Barma, a clinical psychologist.
Sanjay Gupta, who runs an NGO, Chetna, which has been trying to rehabilitate street children for more than a decade, told NDTV, "The fact is that the government should crackdown against these people who sell such substances to kids. This trade is worth a minimum of Rs 30 Lakh to Rs one crore daily."
A survey by NGOs found that 80 percent of street children are using such glues on a daily basis.