The United States has listed India among the world’s top 20 producing and transit countries of illegal drugs but Indian enforcement officials insisted that the situation wasn’t as bad as it sounded. India has a large problem of diversion of opium production and chemicals used to process and refine drugs, Christy McCampbell, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, announced in Washington at the release of the annual report on Major Illicit Drug Producing Countries.
The US estimates 30 per cent of India’s licit opium grown was being diverted and placed in Delhi in the company of 19 countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burma, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Nigeria, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.
“The 30 per cent figure sounds too much of a guesstimate… and on the higher side,” said an official at the Central Bureau of Narcotics in Gwalior that licenses cultivators across three states, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, to grow opium poppy. The government has progressively tightened controls over the farmers over the years, bringing down the licensed area under the crop from 30,000 hectare a decade ago to nearly 7,000 hectare.
But there have been problems. This year, CBN officials detected illicit cultivation across 6,000 hectares in Murshidabad and Nadia districts of West Bengal that were not known to be involved in illicit cultivation.
“We encourage very much the Indian officials to investigate this matter and to prosecute those behind this surprisingly large and disquieting find,” McCampbell said.
The annual report included India among "certain countries where exceptional factors are at play".
The White House had last week noted India’s "exemplary record" in controlling legal opium production.