Himachal Pradesh has turned into a major attraction for foreign tourists. Sadly, far more than its outstanding geography, people and culture, the tourist influx reveals a deadly narcotic nexus. An increasing number of localities are falling prey to this business and addiction.

In Himachal Pradesh the growing narcotics menace has overwhelmed a good number of youth in Kullu, Manali, Mandi and Shimla. The narcotics trade is assuming horrific shape in Kullu where a large numbers of tourists, mostly Israelis, pour in every year. This has inspired local farmers to clandestinely cultivate illegal poppy or cannabis crops to earn quick bucks.

The number of cases registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in Himachal Pradesh has more than tripled in last decade.

A comprehensive destruction campaign against the cultivation of Opium Poppy was launched from 15-4-2018 in all the districts of the State especially areas where such cultivation is reported. The drive is being launched through the Panchayats for the destruction of cannabis crop grown areas by the end of June, 2018 and crop to grown to a stage when it is difficult to destroy it.

Action Plan

Giving details of the action plan being undertaken during the campaign, Director General of Police Sita Ram Mardi informed that all revenue officials, forest officials and elected representatives of Panchayati Raj Bodies and Urban Local Bodies are duty bound under section 47 of ND&PS Act, 1985 to inform police about the illegal cultivation of cannabis and opium-poppy in their respective area of jurisdiction. They will give the information in writing to concerned SHO and also to Superintendent of Police. The forest officials to patrol in their respective jurisdiction and report the illegal cultivation in their beat to the police.

Once illegal cultivation is detected, a joint campaign will be launched to destroy such cultivation by involving all stakeholders, enforcement agencies such as police, NCB, SNCB, CID and departments of Forests, Revenue, Punchayati Raj and Rural Development.

These agencies will submit progress report on poppy, opium and cannabis destruction before 15th August, 2018. All SPs will associate Mahila Mandals, Yuvak Mandals and other NGOs while conducting the destruction of opium poppy and cannabis crops.

Agriculture and Horticulture departments in coordination with Rural Development department jointly will submit a proposal to adopt alternative cash crops suitable for areas cultivating opium poppy and cannabis illegally.

Sensitizing school students

Training module for Nodal training Officers of Education department to sensitize students on drug abuse will be prepared. During PTA and SMC meetings, parents of students will also be sensitized on this issue. Counseling sessions are also being organized once in a week in educational institutions on drug abuse. It was also emphasized that surprised checking be carried out randomly in and around the educational institutions to identify such students who indulge in drug abuse. Major objective of such counseling is to reach the supplier of drugs through students.

All shops/dhabhas located near educational institutions be kept under strict surveillance and their inspection be carried out time to time and suspicious activities around these institutions will be informed to the police.

Public Relations Department will run a massive awareness programme through different methodologies including street plays on the ill effects of drug abuse. However street play team of Ist IRBn Bangarh Una has already set into action.

Health department will share publicity material of drug abuse on 104 helpline with Education and Public Relations departments for its further dissemination among the general public.

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Rahul Bhandari is Editor of TheNewsHimachal and has been part of the digital world for last 15 years.