With the concerted efforts of the state police failing to tackle drug trade in Kullu district, now Chaudhary Sarwan Kumar Himachal Pradesh Agricultural University (HPAU), Palampur, has come forward to help eradicate drug cultivation in the scenic valley.
In a novel move, the farm university has proposed to provide alternative remunerative crops to the farmers in cannabis-growing areas, an approach entirely different from that of the police — to destroy the cannabis fields.
Police strategy so far has had little effect on the ground as cannabis cultivation continues unabated, making Kullu the country’s biggest drug-producing area with a considerable quantity finding its way to foreign countries, particularly those in Europe.
In a meeting of the scientific advisory committee held at HPAU’s Krishi Vigyan Kendra in Bajaura of Kullu on Wednesday, vice-chancellor KK Katoch resolved to help make the district cannabis free.
“The university will play an active role in eradicating the cannabis cultivation by providing alternative remunerative crops to the farmers in areas infamous for cultivation of the herb,” said Katoch.
For this, HPAU, the vice-chancellor said, had constituted a committee, which would visit remote areas where cannabis was being grown.
“After a detailed study by the committee, the university will provide medicinal crops to the farmers and encourage them to stop cannabis cultivation,” Katoch said, adding that this would help sustain livelihood of the farmers as well as eradicate the problem of illegal drug production, which is soaring by each passing year.
Besides, the committee would also frame a policy document to tackle the cannabis cultivation that would be submitted to the government for appropriate decisions, he added.
The inaccessible valleys and lofty mountains in Kullu district have become happy hunting grounds for the cultivation of cannabis and opium. Police records show 50,000 acres of land under cannabis cultivation in the Kullu valley alone.
The lure of cheap and quality cannabis draws hordes of foreigners to Kullu, while for the locals it’s the most lucrative crop, leading to more areas coming under cannabis cultivation every year.
The Magic Valley in the higher reaches of Malana village, known as the world’s oldest democracy, some 50 km from Kullu town, is known for cultivating “Malana Cream”, a prized hashish that is a purified resinous extract of cannabis and is in huge demand in the west for its quality.
In a fortnight-long campaign in May, the police had destroyed cannabis on over 500 acres in Malander Thach near Malana, Fozal, Naggar, Manikaran, Sainj and Banjar areas of the valley.
Reining in the menace
HPAU constitutes committee, which will visit remote areas in Kullu district where cannabis is being grown
Committee to conduct detailed study, following which the university will provide medicinal crops to the farmers and encourage them to stop cannabis cultivation
The move will not only help the farmers sustain their livelihood, but also eradicate the problem of illegal drug production
Committee to also frame a policy document to tackle cannabis cultivation that will be submitted to the state government for further course of action