Dwarka: According to city administration norms, the sale of cigarettes and other nicotine-based products is banned near schools. However, such norms are being flouted openly in the sub-city.
The open sale of tobacco products in Dwarka, reportedly one of the most planned sub-cities in Delhi, has become a common sight. Such outlets selling tobacco products can be seen at every nook and corner in Dwarka. This is a violation of the norms set by the administration. The irony is that these things are in the knowledge of the administration, yet no action is being taken to stop or curb such trade.
As witnessed, tobacco products are also being sold within a distance of 100 metres from schools at many places across Dwarka. The open sale of tobacco-based products can be seen in Sector 6, along the Master Plan Road No 201 on footpaths, in Sector 9, Sector 10, Sectors 12, 13 and 14, Sector 19, 22 and 23 and so on. Vendors on footpaths often violate the norms of being within 100 metres of a school and selling to minors. However, designated shops in market places too are violating the norms.
While going across the sub-city, it was found that despite the ban on the sale of tobacco-based products to minors and other fixed norms, there is no fear of law amongst sellers. After school time, kids can be seen buying cigarettes or tobacco-based products at small shops on footpaths or shops in malls. There are two shopping malls, one in sector 22 and another in sector-23 where cigarette and tobacco products are being sold. There are at least four to five schools within a radius of 100 metres of these malls.
We talked to Rekha Jhingan, Director of Sahaj Sambhav, an organisation working on drug de-addiction on this matter. He says, “It is shameful for all community members, authorities and also the organisations working towards social welfare that the young generation is becoming addicted to tobacco. It could be in any form such as gutkha or cigarettes. I have seen school boys consuming tobacco products in Dwarka and its surrounding areas. Not only this, small children in slums have become addicted to tobacco and cigarette."
He continues, "One of the major causes of this is lack of action against such violations. I want to appeal to the community to join hands in preventing this and saving our future. Authorities must take strict action on the open sale of tobacco."
Neither the administration nor the civic authorities seem serious about the subject. Moreover, community members, parents and school authorities have not voiced concern on the subject too. Meanwhile, new vendors dealing in tobacco are coming up in Dwarka.
Rajeev Kumar, a social activist and resident of Sector 4 says, “All norms are bring fluted. Tobacco based products are not just being sold to minors, but this sale is taking place near schools. As a result, the tendency to smoke and consume tobacco is increasing among school kids. The administration should think about it seriously and laws should be established on all fronts.”
The local Police say that they do take action against such shops and also write to the civic bodies whereas the civic bodies' officials say that the vendors are removed from the footpath during regular anti-encroachment drives. However, the ground reality shows that the efforts of both the Police and the civic bodies have proved insufficient in controlling this menace.