Mumbai, B'lore have highest street children, says Assocham study

Under-privileged

Mumbai, B'lore have highest  street children, says Assocham study

Mumbai and Bangalore have the highest number of street children among the big cities in the country, according to the estimates of industry chamber Assocham (The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India).

The study, ‘Situational Analysis of Street Children in Metro Cities’ estimated that Mumbai has around 1.25 lakh street children followed by Bangalore with 1.10 lakh.

Delhi stands third with an estimated street children population of one lakh, while Kolkata has around 85,000. In the national capital, North Delhi has the highest number of street children at 55,000.

“Whatever propels them onto the streets, their presence is a stark, worrying sign of deeper social problem,” the study said.

Releasing the report on Tuesday, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde appealed to the corporates to set up a special trust for street children and adopt them so that their educational and other needs are attended to.

Speaking about his childhood, Shinde said, “at the age of 12, I was selling toffees and three years later, I was a peon in a court. Nobody used to be concerned about me. I got an opportunity and I became the chief minister, then Governor and now the Home Minister. We have to give opportunity to the poor.”

The study said one in every four street children in the metros are victims of substance abuse, including inhalants (35 per cent), chewing tobacco and smoking (21 per cent), gutka (16 per cent), cannabis (16 per cent) and alcohol (12 per cent).

It also found that one in every five of the street children is involved in ragpicking, followed by street vending (15 per cent), begging (12 per cent), working on roadside repair shops (12 per cent), hotels (six per cent) and those employed in manufacturing units comprise two per cent.

The survey, conducted by Assocham Ladies League covered 2,000 children during May-June this year.

Fifty-two per cent of the street children were illiterate, the study said, alleging that the statistics make a mockery of the Right to Education Act which makes elementary education a constitutional entitlement for every child between the ages of six and 14 years.

The study has shown that boys and girls on the street are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse by strangers, adult street dwellers and at times by family members.

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