Malda administration to hire drones to identify poppy producing areas | kolkata | Hindustan Times
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Malda administration to hire drones to identify poppy producing areas

Cultivators camouflage poppy plants by growing maize and sugarcane. With villagers not helping

kolkata Updated: Oct 14, 2016 10:17 IST
Sreyasi Pal
Opium is derived from the latex of poppy seeds.
Opium is derived from the latex of poppy seeds.(HT Photo)

Malda police and administration are planning to use drones to identify the poppy production zones in the district this year before the starting of the poppy production season.

Sources said they have already sent a requisition for drones to the authorities in Kolkata.

Read: Opium, fake money racketeers blamed for mob attack on Bengal cops

Poppy production will begin in the next 15 days. A section of police officers of Malda think it is impossible for them to identify the production zones without the help of drones.

For the last few years, the quantity of poppy production in areas under Kaliachak and Baishnabnagar police station of Malda has increased drastically. But police are failing to curb the production because villagers aren’t providing them information. So, the cops are planning to get aerial picture on a regular basis.

Opium is the dried latex from poppy. It is also the source of heroin. Illegal poppy cultivation is, therefore, a major headache for the district administration. District police and intelligence officers believe that proceeds from poppy cultivation and narcotics trade also sometimes finance terror activities.

File picture of a raid in an illegal poppy field in Madhya Pradesh. In Malda district of north Bengal, the authorities are facing a problem as villagers are reluctant to provide information on the tracts of poppy cultivation. (HT Photo)

In fact, illegal poppy cultivators are thought to be one of the driving forces behind the attack on Kaliachak police station on January 3, 2016 when thousands of people burnt down the police station and several vehicles of the police.

Read: Opium for masses, a problem in Arunachal

To camouflage the poppy plants, cultivators grow maize or sugarcane around the poppy plantation. So, it become very difficult to locate poppy plants. “If we get aerial picture of the areas it will be very easy for us to locate the poppy cultivation zones,” said a police officer.

An intelligence officer said poppy cultivation zones in Malda are spreading every year. Now it is not limited to Kaliachak and Baishnabnagar. In 2016, excise department personnel destroyed poppy plants on 12,200 bighas, or 1959 hectares. But none has a clear idea of the exact quantity of poppy produced in Malda.

On September 9, Malda district magistrate and police super, in the presence of several senior officers, held a meeting with panchayat members. They were instructed to inform the police or administrative officers about poppy production in their areas.

Read: HP govt to encourage people to stop sowing cannabis, poppy

Malda SP (excise) Suprabhat Biswas said, “In 2016, 132 cases have been lodged for illegal poppy cultivation in Malda and 10 persons have been arrested. From mid-November, poppy production starts. So we have already started campaign against poppy production. We are expecting cooperation from all sections of people.”

“We have already sent a proposal to provide us drone cameras to locate poppy production zones. We will not hesitate to take action against the people’s representatives if they don’t inform us about poppy production in their areas. We will stop it in Malda,” said police super Arnab Ghosh.