Smugglers of the party drug ketamine hydrochloride will soon have a tough time, with the central government all set to finalise inclusion of the drug in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
As it stands now, smugglers of ketamine, popularly known as party and date rape drug, are arrested under the Customs Act where they can get bail within days. Under NDPS, there is no bail for smugglers and punishment for first-time offenders is a minimum of 10 years.
A senior Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) officer, requesting anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media, said the notification to bring ketamine smuggling under the NDPS Act was in the final stages. “The notification is with the finance ministry for a final approval, which should come in a month’s time,” the officer said.
Earlier in the day, on Wednesday, NCB’s director general OPS Malik had, in a meeting of law enforcement agencies, informed that the central government was considering including ketamine in the NDPS Act for stricter punitive measures.
Malik was in Mumbai to chair the regional coordination meeting on drug enforcement of the western region, held at the New Customs House, Ballard Pier.
Representatives of the Intelligence Bureau, customs, directorate of revenue intelligence, food and drug administration, coast guard and railway protection force attended the meet. State police from Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, MP and Chhattisgarh attended.
The NCB, customs and other law enforcement agencies were trying hard to get ketamine smuggling included in the NDPS Act. The Mumbai airport customs had, in 2006, sent a proposal to the central government for the same.
Mumbai has witnessed the seizure of around 1,000 kg of ketamine in the last five years. The drug was being smuggled to Taiwan, China, Malaysia and some other south-east Asian and European countries.
NCB and customs officers said, besides a weak law under which smugglers are arrested, the price is an attraction. Being legal in India, ketamine hydrochloride costs Rs 35,000 per kg. But, in the international market it is Rs 10 lakh a kg. “That is because it falls under the narcotic drugs category in Taiwan, China and European countries,” a customs officer said.