In a major move to curb the drug menace, the union government has refused to grant permission to auction government vends of poppy husk for 2014-15 and carry out its farming in the neighbouring state of Rajasthan, a prime reason of smuggling of the contraband into Punjab.
According to sources, the excise department of the Rajasthan government had sought permission from the union government to auction vends of poppy husk and allow its farming in the state as usual. But this time, the NDA government, led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has denied permission for the same and it is most likely that the sale of poppy husk in six districts of Rajasthan will stop by April 1.
"Two months ago, when the union government refused to grant permission for the sale or farming of poppy husk for the next financial year, the Rajasthan government pursued the matter with the plea that it was used as a medicine by a number of natives of Rajasthan. The union government then referred the matter to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for its view on the drug. The AIIMS, in its report, reportedly termed it a drug and not a medicine. Hence, the union government refused to grant permission for the sale or faming of poppy husk," official sources said.
Though the Rajasthan government, that reaps heavy benefit from the sale of poppy husk, is still reportedly trying to obtain nod from the Centre, yet the chances of its getting permission are very bleak because Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his "Mann Ki Baat" programme, had spoken against the drug menace and the need to curb it while SAD president and deputy chief minister of Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal had raised the issue of 'farming of opium' in the BJP-ruled states, including Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the sources said.
In Rajasthan, the state government had issued 'permits' to various people who were facilitated poppy husk to be used as medicine, but somehow the same was further smuggled into Punjab.
Swapan Sharma, senior superintendent of police (SSP), Fazilka, situated next to Rajasthan, said, "It would be a great relief for Punjab as at present a lion's share of opium and poppy husk is smuggled from Rajasthan only."