Regional

Drug menace spreads its pangs in Himachal Pradesh

November 11, 2017 07:47 AM

Punjab News Express/Y.S.Rana
CHANDIGARH: Drug abuse in Himachal Pradesh is best kept secret in the corridor of the state government yet is talked about in virtually every household in the State. The rampant drug racket in the state has come to haunt its people but not the political elite, the ruling Congress. Unaware Of the enormity of the disease, no political party in Himachal Pradesh provided any space to drugs menace spreading its pangs across the state in their manifesto for the Assembly elections but the fact remains the menace is going to assume alarming proportions.

The welcome song for the ‘would be’ government dies down giving way to some glaring realities, the new government will have its hands full fighting inflation, corruption and unemployment. But what can turn out to be the bigger test is pulling the Gen X out of the grip of drugs. The next government should also remember that drugs have taken the toll of Akali-BJP government in Punjab.

In the third quarter of 2016, 274 narcotic-related cases were registered and 320 people were arrested.  During the past 11 years the number of cases booked under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act-1985 by the state police was 5183 and number of arrested persons was 5090. Though in the coming years it will be a serious cause of concern as it is admitted that drug abuse has spread among school going children too in the state.

The enforcement directorate (Narcotics) which is supposed to check the spread of abuse, had been making tall claims but the data says otherwise.  A study conducted by the Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital, Shimla observed that 40 per cent youth in the state was involved in drug abuse. Police records also show that there over 50,000 acres of land alone in Kullu valley is under cannabis cultivation.

So far conviction rate is concerned, while in 2005 it was 32 per cent has come down to 28.20 per cent in 2015. Surprisingly, over 48 per cent cases were registered indistricts Kullu, Chamba and Mandi. The Superintendent, CID (Narcotics) said in a conference that Malana in district Kullu alone produced 400-500 kgs of charas annually. Bada Bhangal in district Kangra has nearly 20 per cent of private land under opium and cannabis cultivation.

In 2016, the enforcement department had seized over 1347 kgs of charas and district Mandi tops the list of seizure of opium (56.631 kgs) in the state. The number of persons arrested during the past 11 years is a small friction of big crime.  During the period 1369 persons were arrested in Kullu, followed by Mandi (1346). Shimla has this number 663, Hamirpur 288, Kangra 580, Una 243 and Chamba 506.

In 2013, percentage of conviction rate was 44 per cent that has come down to 28.20 per cent in 2015. The number of drug abuse has been increasing despite the campaigns being carried out to make people in the state aware of the problem. Notably, the district of LaHAUL-Spiti has no reported case of drug abuse or cultivation.  In fact, 25 years ago, nobody knew anything about drug abuse and not many in the state would have even heard of the term. Today, it is hard to shut it out of the day-to-day life of the towns.

The state has been observing the Anti Drug Day every year, yet the message is far from reaching the grass root level. If one looks at the data available, more efforts are still required to check the spreading of the abuse. Though a number of NGOs are drudging hard to efface the menace but the callous attitude of the government pose problems.  “Efforts to stop illicit cultivation, trafficking and consumption of drugs have failed and even it has made inroads in village and schools. Law should be implemented in true spirit otherwise situation will go out of hand,” said a doctor of Barsar.

Naya Savera de-addiction centre at village Jhiri in district Mandi has so far treated 1160 persons. Of these 556, fell in the age group of 20-30 years. Arvind Kumar, its president admitted lack of political will to deal with the problem and added that there was no authentic survey available drug problem in the state.  

However, it is not just about information and awareness, it is all about strict implementation of laws along with changing attitude and this is where much progress has not taken place. The state government should, perhaps, avoid the policy of playing fast and loose with the situation.                         
 
Drug-wise seizures and arrests during last three years in Himachal Pradesh
Sl. No.          Drug             2013                2014           2015
1.               Ganja           3.048 Kg -        0.835Kg
2.               Charas         314.962 kg       356.963 Kg        283.438Kg
3                Poppy husk     777.752kg       1192.059Kg      1731.360Kg
4.               Poppy plant    9,467 No.         44,215 No.       1,56,892 No.
5.               Opium          1.781 Kg          8.279 Kg          5.022Kg

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