The Punjab government, it seems, is only relying on Punjab police to curb the drug menace, as there has been no change in its attitude towards the drug de-addiction centres in the state.
Most of these centres are in deplorable condition and have no resources to keep the addicts under vigilance, which is a key part of their treatment.
Besides, they have no money to pay their staff. Punjab’s first drug de-addiction centre on Bathinda-Goniana road depicts the true picture.
Founded in 1992, the building is in a pathetic condition. With no resources, it lacks the staff and infrastructure to keep addicts under strict surveillance. To it, their employees have not received the salary for past one year.
“The first few weeks are very crucial for the drug addicts. They are most violent in this period and need strict surveillance. But we do not have resources to keep them here at nights,” said Baljinder Singh, project officer of the centre.
Citing the problems, Baljinder said, “The central government provides 90% of the Rs. 10 lakh annual grant given to us.
But this year, we failed to file for the approval of the grant on time due to licensing problems.
The Punjab government made licensing compulsory and we were asked to complete all the formalities. It was a long process and things could not work on time.”
“Earlier Red Cross used give us loan in advance to pay for the salaries and other expenses. We used to repay this loan back to the Red Cross after getting the grant from the central government.
But last year, Red Cross declined to give us loan, citing financial problems,” said Baljinder, adding that the employees have not got the salary for last one year and the central grant was expected to reach only after September.
“Most of them have been relieved and fresh applications have been invited, as these all are contractual posts,” informed Baljinder.
Another drug de-addiction centre attached with Civil Hospital, Bathinda, too, faces similar problems. The Punjab government has no money to run this centre as well.
Guru Gobind Singh Oil Refinery donates Rs. 5 lakh annually to the centre and helps them meet the expenses to an extent.
“We have 50 beds, but it is not enough. We always keep 10 to 20 addicts in waiting,” said Roop Singh Maan, who is a counsellor for the addicts.
“There is no purpose in running drug de-addiction centre if you cannot admit drug-addict patients there. It is the very basic part of the treatment,” said a doctor in the health department.